The return of Shakib Al Hasan will be a big boost for Bangladesh © AFP
October 25-29, 2014
Start time 0930 local, 0330 GMT
Ten months into 2014 and Zimbabwe will only play their second Test of the year. Brendan Taylor will lead out a team full of spunk, something that Michael Clarke’s Australia would vouch for after losing to them in an ODI recently.
Zimbabwe’s opponents have been starving for a noteworthy win for the last 12 months. Bangladesh’s last significant performance was drawing both Tests against New Zealand and beating them 3-0 in the ODIs in October last year. The bleak period has brought upon a lot of negativity, but against Zimbabwe, their nearest rivals, a change in attitude and better results are expected.
For Mushfiqur Rahim, this is a chance to turn his fortunes around as the captain. He has been one of the in-form batsmen, but the perception is that the 12 ODI losses have undermined his captaincy. The BCB’s decision to replace him as ODI captain with Mashrafe Mortaza can be a blessing in disguise for Mushfiqur, as it will mean leaving aside one extra burden. His wicketkeeping has also come under scrutiny. In contests where the team making less mistakes will most likely be on the winning side, his alertness behind the stumps will be important for Bangladesh.
For Zimbabwe, it is yet another opportunity to give a good account of themselves in Tests. They have a longer opportunity this time, having a three-Test series after more than a decade, but a lot will depend on how they start with the bat and ball. The top order will be asked to provide more than forties and fifties while Taylor will have to anchor the innings. Their lower middle order has troubled Bangladesh in the past, and though it is an area of batting that often goes unnoticed, Zimbabwe can hit the home side hard.
The return of Shakib Al Hasan for Bangladesh, after serving a truncated suspension, could ultimately make the difference between the two sides. But that would also depend on how much time the allrounder would need to adjust to international cricket, having not played much since June.
In the spotlight
Mominul Haque is Bangladesh’s leading run-scorer in Tests this year, and was one of the few performers in West Indies last month. He will be expected to take control of the game from his No. 4 position and make sure he supports the more senior batsmen in the top and middle order.
Zimbabwe’s batting too depends a lot on their No. 4. Brendan Taylor made 93 in the team’s last Test, against South Africa. He is Zimbabwe’s highest scorer against Bangladesh and made a big impact with the bat in the Test series last year.
Marshall Ayub is expected to replace Imrul Kayes at No. 3 while Shakib Al Hasan will be an automatic choice in the middle order. The tricky part would be to choose between the inexperienced Jubair Hossain, the specialist legspinner, and Shuvagata Hom, who would add some batting and a bit of bowling strength.
Bangladesh (possible): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Shamsur Rahman, 3 Marshall Ayub, 4 Mominul Haque, 5 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk), 6 Shakib Al Hasan, 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Shuvagata Hom/Jubair Hossain, 9 Shafiul Islam, 10 Al-Amin Hossain, 11 Taijul Islam
Coach Stephen Mangongo has hinted that out of the three young spinners, Wellington Masakadza could make his Test debut. They might have to make a choice between Tinashe Panyangara and Elton Chigumbura – whether to pick an out-and-out seamer or a seaming allrounder who can change the pace of the game.
Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Vusi Sibanda, 2 Hamilton Masakadza, 3 Sikandar Raza, 4 Brendan Taylor (capt), 5 Regis Chakabva, 6 Craig Ervine, 7 Richmond Mutumbami (wk), 8 Tinashe Panyangara/Elton Chigumbura, 9 John Nyumbu, 10 Wellington Masakadza, 11 Tendai Chatara
Pitch and conditions
The last Test played at this venue, between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in January this year, produced the fastest scoring rate at this ground. Mirpur has generally favoured the batsmen and has a reputation of holding up similar pace and even bounce till the fourth day.
Stats and trivia
- Only five members of the Zimbabwe touring contingent have played Tests in Bangladesh, in 2005. Four are current players while Douglas Hondo is in the coaching staff.
- None of the Bangladesh players from the last Test between the two sides in the country are in the current team.
“It has been good to look at the home team practising and meet so many people. Many many more to meet and I am looking forward to a good series against Zimbabwe, the old enemy.”
Said Dav Whatmore, who is on commentary duty in Bangladesh
“Their entire spin department is quite inexperienced. So they will be more concerned than us.”
Mushfiqur Rahim on the Zimbabwe spinners