Bangladesh Vs Zimbabwe Only test preview by me
It’s been a long break for the Tigers and for the fans like me since the last ODI against the Aussies back in April. It’s been even longer for test lovers like me since the last time we saw our boys in all white. But now it all comes down to this single test. Will Bangladesh finally win a test match and stop those Cricket Gurus wondering or will Zimbabwe return in style and restore their honour as a test nation? The rivalry is about to get tougher that’s for sure!
After such a long break from ODI cricket and the longest break since the last test, Bangladesh don’t have much to be assured of. With new players making debuts and old players trying to make a comeback, our squad is full of uncertainties and unpredictable outcomes. With a completely new coaching staff who barely got time to say “hi”, the situation does not get better at all. The batting attack looked promising until two big collapses against a second string Zimbabwe in the practice match. The bowling on the other hand looked much better and the absence of Shahadat and Mashrafe might not be the death factor anymore.
Some fans might feel very unsecured given the loss in the practice match however, they also have to take into consideration the 42 hours journey to the African land right before the match. The players were undoubtedly exhausted and still adapting to the cold weather. All these factors contributed to the loss. The vice-captain and dashing opener Tamim Iqbal was also absent from the much because of his recovery from a slight injury. But that’s all for excuses! Bangladesh will need to brace themselves against a seam attack at a seam friendly condition. This is in contrast to the surface and situation they face in home. On the other hand, the seamers from Bangladesh will need to make supreme effort because spinners won’t enjoy the luxury of a spin wicket anymore. Although, Zimbabwe does have a huge weakness against spin attack but that might not be effective until the second innings or after 3 days of cricket. So if the pacers can restrict the Zimbabwean batting attack under 250, the spinners will be able to do the rest in the second. For our batting, they must bat as long as possible. The score isn’t a prime target anymore. Bangladesh batting line up have a point to make to the critic world that they have the maturity, temperament to play test cricket. In order to accomplish that, they must bat at least 150 overs. Even though Bangladesh is the favourite, they are not far ahead from Zimbabwe calculating every factor.
First of all, welcome back to test cricket. Their exile from this important format has been nothing but pain for their supporters. But past is past. Now they are back in full swing. With Taylor leading the way, Zimbabwe has a great opportunity to comeback with a win. The surface, weather, venue everything favouring them, it will only take mental toughness and correct execution of skills to pull them through. The line-up needs to forget the fact that they did not play test cricket for long and Bangladesh are the favourites. If they can do that, they will have the killer instinct more than Bangladesh will. Having a promising bowling attack, their batting attack is a growing concern. Even from a neutral perspective, their batting is not test ready at all. For Bangladesh, their problem is consistency because they have talented players that certainly have the temperament and skills for the format. For Zimbabwe, they might have the talent but they are far from proving it. However, if they can post a combined score of 450, they will certainly have a good chance and it will be a reasonable start. The coaching staff would be working on ensuring those mistakes and poor display against Australian A does not get repeated because the critic world would have the microscope on this team as well as Bangladesh.
With no Mashrafe, Shahadat, their pace attack lacks that experience and killer instinct. But that also means, they have a chance to try some of the newer players and maybe have an X factor. With 3 pacers a must, it would even be better to play all 4 pacers available to form a strong attack. With Rubel bringing the pace, Shafiul and Robiul will work out their swing and Nazmul putting the opponent under pressure with his controlled bowling. A chance for Nazmul is a long overdue as he gets benched way too often without a valid reason. He can be deadly with his slow deliveries and on this surface, he can certainly be effective. He also remains the most experienced against Zimbabwe out of all pacers remaining. Even though Razzaq was never a test material, for the spin attack he is the only one available other than Shakib. His “wow” factor and fire hot streak against Zimbabwe could give him the edge if he can adapt to longer format quicker. Shakib will also need to continue his good performance in test cricket as a bowler but after such a long break and a busy T20 schedule this year, one can only hope for the best. Mahmudullah Riyad can provide back up if needed but if Bangladesh have to go up to Mahmudullah to stop the opposition, the chances wont be high. For batting attack, one comment can summarize the whole attack. “No Ashraful” Even though he is still a legend for the Tigers, he just does not have the temperament, skills required and consistency to appear in white jerseys. Any other batsmen would only be better. His inclusion in the team makes the whole batting attack look more inconsistent than it is. Tamim, the superstar in tests last year, will have his chance to shine again. If he can settle in, he can accomplish anything, almost any record. Hopefully he wouldn’t miss the opportunity. Players like Mahmudullah Riyad, Shahriar Nafees and Mushfiqur Rahim will have to make a much better effort in the actual test than the practice match. They certainly have the talent and temperament to go big. They only need to start well. For the rookies, Shuvogoto Hom and Nasir Hossain, both are promising and it cannot be a loss to add either or both of them, but perhaps it would be wise to observe for now rather than take the heat. So my playing XI becomes,
Shakib Al Hasan
Abdur Razzaq/ Nasir Hossain
For me, no point taking 8 batsmen if 5 of them can’t even make it to double digits!
For the eagles, they have a much controlled squad for past few years. They don’t have much option outside the current pool nor is it advisable to bring any for this crucial clash. The best thing to do would be play a healthy number of seamers and the best batsmen on line. Taylor, Sibanda, Masakadza and Taibu will need to lead the batting because they are best ones the team has. For bowling, Mpofu, the new and promising Vitori, Experienced Ray Price and Elton Chigumbura will lead the bowling. It is not that difficult to predict their starting line up on the 4th.
Brendan Taylor (capt)
Tatenda Taibu (wk)
Players to watch out for!
Shafiul Islam: After an unsuccessful world cup campaign followed by the tough Aussie series, Shafiul is set to make a comeback. He is certainly the best seamer in the Tigers line up at the moment. His good performance against Zimbabwe A team shows hope. When this guy is confident, he can get anybody out of the way. His aggressive bowling can be deadly against Zimbabwe at the condition that favours it. His excellent swingers could very well bag a lot of wickets. If Shakib uses him well, expect a lot of wickets from this guy early on in the innings. Not only with the bowl but recently he has shown great qualities as a lower order batsmen. He can certainly bring some quick runs with the bat!
Brian Vitori: The only player in the Zimbabwe team without any experience, he will be an X factor for Zimbabwe. He already received numerous praises from the Australian A coaching department, his own coach Cambell is also confident in his abilities. Once again with a wonderful seaming pitch, he can be very effective against the Bangladesh side that are totally inexperienced in facing him.
Toss Given the shaky batting attack for Bangladesh, it would be better if they are not put on test right away. Also given the condition where the mornings are a bit cold, the bowlers would do better than batsmen early on. So, win the toss, and it's bowl first from me!