Oct 242014
 

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Oct 242014
 
Mushfiqur looks to dominate
Mushfiqur Rahim punches off the back foot, West Indies v Bangladesh, 1st Test, St Vincent, 4th day, September 8, 2014
Mushfiqur Rahim: “We will try to pressurise their inexperienced spin attack” © WICB
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Mushfiqur Rahim and Tamim Iqbal took turns to bat on the one of the three nets the Bangladesh team was using in their morning practice session. It was the spinners’ net where young bowlers from local Dhaka clubs tested themselves out against the big boys. Tamim was quick to nod in appreciation as a young offspinner drew an outside edge. Mushfiqur practised his defence and later stepped out against the left-arm spinners.

However, there was no legspinner on that pitch. Zimbabwe have two in their squad – Natsai M’Shangwe and Tafadzwa Kamungozi – who accounted for seven batsmen in the only innings they bowled in during the practice game in Fatullah. One of them will definitely feature in the XI tomorrow. Mushfiqur, however, played down the team’s lack of experience against legspin and said Bangladesh would look to exploit the lack of experience in Zimbabwe’s spin department.

“I don’t think there is that much of a concern,” Mushfiqur said. “Their entire spin department is quite inexperienced. So they will be more concerned than us. They will have to work harder. The pressure will be more on them.

“With regards to leg spin, yes it is true that we don’t face too many of them in domestic cricket. Considering their spin attack I think we can face them. Also we have faced Jubair [Hossain] for the last six months or so, so that should help in terms of preparations. We are ready for that. We will try to pressurise their inexperienced spin attack.”

If they are to pressurise the Zimbabwe bowling, Bangladesh will need a boost from their batsmen, who have struggled to post big scores over the last two years. Mominul Haque, with three hundreds in nine Tests, has been the most-prolific scorer closely followed by Mushfiqur. However, between Tamim, Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah and Shamsur Rahman, there is just one century in a combined tally of 30 Tests. It’s the sort of figures that would have been in Mushfiqur’s mind as he said he wants the batsmen to be more responsible.

 
 
“This is a new challenge for us. We don’t play three Tests often. It will be a challenge especially for the bowlers.” Mushfiqur Rahim
 

“I always say that in order to win a Test you always need a scorer to carry on with the innings,” he said. “Those who get set they need to play big innings. So we are trying to do that. In the practice matches there was less time, so I guess despite the fact that they couldn’t score big knocks during the practice matches, they spent enough time in the middle I thought. So it should go well. Hopefully our batsmen will be responsible.

“This is a team game but individual game is very important. At the end of the day a single bowler or batsman can change the game. We have tried to send this message to the players. So everyone knows their roles. The time has now come to apply that in the middle. For instance Nasir [Hossain] was dropped. His dropping was a message that if a player does not perform he will be dropped. So I think the players should try to utilise this opportunity and play well. We don’t always get a chance to dominate in cricket so we will try to do that in this Test hopefully.”

There is always a stress on “processes rather than results” among modern captains – Mushfiqur used the phrase a few times while answering questions on results – but a poor year has forced Bangladesh to rework and experiment. “This year we have been struggling due to individual performances,” he said. “The year before that four or five guys put their hands up. That hasn’t happened this year. The last four or five months we have been trying different things with our batting line-up. We have really worked hard with our coach.

“I believe that the kind of bowling attack we have we can take 20 wickets,” he said. “Just our fielding support is necessary. And we have done everything to improve that: short catching, long catching, whatever. It’s not that we depend only on Shakib. I think we have two or three other bowlers on whom we can rely. That is a plus point.”

Like Zimbabwe, Bangladesh too have problems getting enough Test matches. They play regular series with other teams but stick to the two-match formula. In the last 10 years, they have only played one three-Test series, against Sri Lanka in 2007. With Zimbabwe also not having played a three-match series in 12 years, that stat, Mushfiqur said, has been balanced out.

“This is a new challenge for us,” he said. “We don’t play three Tests often. It will be a challenge especially for the bowlers. But on the other hand, we haven’t played many Tests this year. If you ask me, I am ready to play ten Tests. It has been that sort of year. So even if they are physically stronger than us I think what will matter more in the long run is how well they adapt to the conditions. Mentally and skill wise we are ahead.”

When asked what result the team would satisfy his team, Mushfiqur said, “We are focussing on the first Test, first session and first ball.”

And if the team needed any positive, it arrived in the form of Dav Whatmore, the former Bangladesh coach, who arrived in Dhaka on commentary duty. There were smiles and warm embraces as Whatmore walked into the nets to surprise the team.

“I remember the first Test win. It was very good,” Whatmore said. “The one after was even better when we drew it because we had to bat long time – four and a half sessions – in the fourth innings to ensure the draw.”

It was just the kind of flashback Bangladesh needed ahead of an important tour.

Oct 242014
 
Rare favourites tag for Bangladesh


The return of Shakib Al Hasan will be a big boost for Bangladesh © AFP

Match facts

October 25-29, 2014
Start time 0930 local, 0330 GMT

Big Picture

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.

Form guide

Bangladesh LLDLD
Zimbabwe LWLLW

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.

Team news

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.

    Quotes

    “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

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