When a completely new team meets another on a playing field, there is always the danger of "not knowing" the opposition well enough. Senegal"s win over France in the FIFA World Cup was a perfect example of such vulnerability. Of course, the weaker team has to play better than the stronger team on that ocassion.
However, Test cricket is not about just playing better is one single day. It is about playing consistently better session after session, day after day, for full five days. This is where the ultimate test of a cricketer is perfected.
In that respect, playing Zimbabwe will be a very big test for Bangladesh. It will prove whether we have learnt to capitulate on favorable conditions. It will also test our players' strength and character. Similarly, it will be a big test for the Zimbabweans, too. They will be tested to see how fast they can learn to pull themselves up to the expectation following their unfortunate shake up.
Do we really know Taibu and his young guns?
It will be an amazing contest to watch. We will either enjoy ourselves swimming in the ocean of satisfaction, redemption, pride and joy, or just sink to the depths of sorrow and frustration. All we can hope for is to pray that we get to swim and not sink.
If we look at our records against Zimbabwe, we do not have much to cheer about, except for few moments of glory when we managed to snatch an ODI victory, Javed Omar carried the bat through and Habibul Bashar scored a test century.
In terms of numbers, we so far managed to build 2 century partnerships in 10 wickets whereas Zimbabwe did 4. But these were records of the time when almost none of the current Zimbabwean players had been in the side.
However, that does not mean that they will not be as destructive as the Flower brothers, Eddo Brandes, or most recently, Heath Streak. In fact, if the current lot of the Zimbabwean players are given the right opportunity, they can be even more aggressive than their famous compatriots, as we have witnessed in the recently concluded 3-day practice match. So the key for us is not to give them the opportunity from where they can carry on to win session after session, day after day.
We have some aggressive players up our sleeves too. Players like Aftab Ahmed, Mashrafe Bin Murtoza, Mohammad Ashraful already showed their class against the Indians. Even out of form players like Javed Omar and Nafees Iqbal could shine just as well against less experienced attack. Destructiveness may not be in Javed Omar's dictionary, but when it comes to destroy a minnow side, we have seen it in him as he made his statement against Hong Kong in the Asia Cup recently and against Holland a couple of years back. Though Zimbabwe excells over those nations in terms of exposure, experience, pride and achievement, the current squad is way too young for all of these.
We may not have dazzling achievements yet, but by all means we are just starting to believe in ourselves and in our abilities. I just hope that this belief gets stronger by the time the first test match starts tomorrow and grows even stronger as it progresses.