3 August 2011
Bangladesh remained upbeat ahead of the one off Test against host Zimbabwe which starts tomorrow at Harare Sports Club ground despite their humiliating loss against the second-string Zimbabwe selected XI in the only 3 day practice match. The victory gave Zimbabwe the upper hand in the historic Test match in which Zimbabwe will mark their return to the top fight after a self inflicted 6 years absence.
The preparation for the arguably the most important Test match of 2011 for both sides could not have been more different. While Zimbabwe embarked on a long preparation ending with competitive longer version cricket involving A-sides of Australia and South Africa, Bangladesh heavily relied on the month long fitness camp and could only muster couple of 90-over match against the GP BCB Academy boys before the sole practice match where they were badly exposed by the Test team wannabes of the hosts. Both Bangladesh coach and skipper played down the loss and vowed to come back hard in the Test match to demonstrate their superiority over their closest opponent in world cricket.
Bangladesh face selection dilemma as none of the contenders for the 3 and 4 position of the batting line-up showed any sign of form in recent months while most batsmen except Mushfiqur Rahim fared badly in the practice match. Imrul Kayes is likely to retain his place in the opening pair despite scoring only 8 and 0 in the practice match, but Junaid Siddique might lose his place to debutant Shuvogoto Hom after failing to make an impression in the same match.
The enigmatic Mohammad Ashraful is likely to bat at number 4 despite not doing anything in recent memory to justify his selection even in the touring squad. He is hoping for a turnaround in his fortune under the new coach Stuart Law, and he must start performing with the bat to justify the faith of the selectors. Another important decision will be the selection of the second spinner for the playing XI. The lacklustre form of Abdur Razzak in the practice match again highlighted his lack of penetration in the longer format of the game, and Bangladesh may opt for an additional seamer in a 3 pronged pace attack with Mahmudullah Riyad stepping in as the second spinner.
Zimbabwe will be sweating on the fitness of the promising fast bowler Brian Vitory who got hurt in the practice session yesterday. The only other talking point is the selection of veteran wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu who was highly critical of ZC in a recent interview with Cricinfo.
The match is scheduled to start at 10:00 AM local time (8:00 AM GMT) at Harare Sports Club in the capital of Zimbabwe.
Bangladesh (likely) : Shakib Al Hasan (C), Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Junaid Siddique/Shuvogoto Hom, Mohammad Ashraful, Shahriar Nafees, Mahmudullah Riyad, Mushfiqur Rahim, Rubel Hossain, Shafiul Islam, Abdur Razzak/Rabiul Islam.
Zimbabwe (Squad): Brendan Taylor (capt), Regis Chakabva, Elton Chigumbura, Craig Ervine, Hamilton Masakadza, Tino Mawoyo, Keegan Meth, Chris Mpofu, Ray Price, Vusi Sibanda, Tatenda Taibu (wk), Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori, Kyle Jarvis.