First Test preview: Bangladesh v Zimbabwe


Zimbabwe have made a rare trip out of Africa for their two Tests against Bangladesh, and will play the first at the Shere Bangla Stadium in Dhaka, where a draw is the usual outcome.

The Tiger and the Zimbos have played six Test series against each other, with the African side winning four. The most recent clash, in 2013 in Zimbabwe, ended in a 1-1 draw, while the last time in Bangladesh saw the hosts win – and odds are favourable that Bangladesh will win again.

With one side in horrific form, and the other playing very little Test cricket, this could be another close series. The Tigers are without key spinner Sohag Gazi, who has been banned due to an illegal bowling action.

They have included leg spinner Jubair Hossain for the first time, and he is the first specialist leg-spinner to be picked for the Tigers if he makes his debut. He’s only got two first class matches under his belt.

They were also at risk of losing paceman Al-Amin Hossain, who had been reported, but he’s in the squad and we haven’t heard of any tests banning him, so he’s set to play.

On the other plus side, veteran all-rounder Shakib-al-Hasan is available. He has been suspended by the board due to poor behavior on and off the field, but returned for the Asia Games last month.

As for their batting, the Tigers have dropped Anamul Haque, Nasir Hossain, Imrul Kayes and Robiul Islam after their poor efforts against the West Indies, and have called up Marshall Ayub and Shahadat Hossain instead.

In general, Zimbabwe will be pleased with what they’re facing, as it’s not the strongest of squads, but they will need to overcome the conditions. They are also missing their best spinner, Prosper Utseya, to a chucking ban.

The visitors have a strong pace attack, but not much in the way of spin, while they have two uncapped players (Brian Chari and Wellington Masakadza) in the squad. Neither are overly experienced.

The batting line up is decent, with the return of Craig Ervine to the side. He’s refused to play for Zimbabwe until their salary situation was sorted out, and has thus not played competitive cricket in 18 months. How he’ll fare is anyone’s guess.

The Zimbos will rely on their experienced skipper, Brendan Taylor, as well as veterans Hamilton Masakadza and Vusi Sibanda, not to mention recent revelations Sikandar Raza, who has recovered from injury.

In other news, the Decision Review System will be in effect for this series, for the first time in Bangladesh, so look forward to some iffy reviews and some indignant comments on social media.

Key Men
For the hosts, the obvious answer is Shakib. He’s their best spinner with Gazi out of action, and is often a rescuer when the top order fails. The pressure is always on him to perform, given his star status.

The Zimbabweans will need some big runs, and will look to skipper Brendan Taylor for those. He is capable of long innings, and often combines with Hamilton Masakadza to put hefty runs on the board. he’s a good player of spin too. The two, effectively, epitomise the need for hard graft in Test match cricket.

Last Five Head-To-Head Results
2013 Second Test: Bangladesh won by 143 runs in Harare
2013 First Test: Zimbabwe won by 335 runs in Harare
2011 Only Test: Zimbabwe won by 133 runs in Harare
2005 Second Test: Match drawn in Dhaka
2005 First Test: Bangaldesh won by 226 runs in Chittagong

Bangladesh: Mushfiqur Rahim (captain), Tamim Iqbal (vice-captain), Shakib Al Hasan, Shamsur Rahman, Mominul Haque, Rubel Hossain, Shuvagata Hom, Mahmudullah, Shafiul Islam, Jubair Hossain, Shahadat Hossain, Marshall Ayub, Al-Amin Hossain, Taijul Islam

Zimbabwe: Brendan Taylor (capt), Sikandar Raza, Regis Chakabva, Brian Chari, Tendai Chatara, Elton Chigumbura, Craig Ervine, Tafadzwa Kamungozi, Hamilton Masakadza, Shingi Masakadza, Wellington Masakadza, Natsai M’shangwe, Richmond Mutumbami, John Nyumbu, Tinashe Panyangara, Vusi Sibanda, Malcolm Waller

Dates: 25-29 October
Morning session: 09:30:00-11:30 (03:30-05:30 GMT)
Afternoon session: 12:10-14:10 (07:10-09:10 GMT)
Evening session: 14:30-16:30 (09:30-11:30 GMT)
On-field umpires: Kumar Dharmasena and S Ravi
Third umpire: Billy Bowden
Match referee: Chris Broad