Bangladesh-Zimbabwe 1st Test begins in Sylhet Saturday
Published: 10:09 PM, 2 November 2018 Updated: 10:09 PM, 2 November 2018
Bangladesh will face visiting Zimbabwe in the first Test of the two-match series beginning at Sylhet International Cricket Stadium on Saturday.
The match will begin at 9:30am [Bangladesh time] through which the picturesque Sylhet venue will host its inaugural Test since its inception in 2013 in the way to be the country's eighth Test venue.
Bangladesh will look to get off to a winning start in the series and will be keen to stamp their authority in the longest format riding high on confidence after a 3-0 win in ODIs against Zimbabwe at home recently.
Both teams last faced off in a Test series in 2014, when Bangladesh clean swept Zimbabwe 3-0 at home. Since then, Bangladesh have become a more formidable Test side at home having victories against the likes of England and Australia in recent years - 2016 and 2017.
Bangladesh's last Test assignment - a two-Test series in the West Indies - saw them crumble to two innings defeats. Even at home in February 2018 in Dhaka, they lost heavily to Sri Lanka, telling the story that there remain cracks in their armour when they have become a better team.
Injuries enforced experienced opener Tamim Iqbal and Test and T20I skipper Shakib Al Hasan to remain outside the squad that makes things a lot more challenging for Bangladesh. But the absence of seniors has created opportunities for young talents like Mohammad Mithun, Nazmul Hossain and Ariful Haque to prove their worth.
Mushfiqur Rahim has to guide the way with the bat alongside stand-in-captain Mahmudullah Riyad. Opener Imrul Kayes, who was outstanding with a record score of 349 runs [144-90-115] in the ODI series, will also look to bring his form into the Test.
Bangladesh's bowling attack uniformed a potent look with Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Mustafizur Rahman and Taijul Islam, who have enjoyed success at home and will look to build on that reputation, although Shakib's absence is likely to be felt in this department too.
The Zimbabweans have not won a Test in over five years and have to bring their moment in the field to push Bangladesh in their backyard.
Having a famous 24-run victory against Pakistan in Harare in September 2013, Zimbabwe suffered 11 losses and managed a lone draw against West Indies in October 2017 in 12 Tests they have played before the series against Bangladesh.
Zimbabwe will have to focus on not only tackling spin-friendly conditions with the bat, but also exploiting them with the ball in order to put the pressure back on a slightly inexperienced batting line-up.
Zimbabwe have a host of experienced batsmen, including captain Hamilton Masakadza, Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams and Craig Ervine. Of theme, Taylor and Williams have come into the Test series with good form from the ODIs. But it will be important for all of them to mark in with contributions and stitch partnerships against a fine bowling attacks.
Sean Williams, typically a batting-all-rounder, will be key to Zimbabwe's fortunes. Williams's role in the sub-continent becomes even more important with assistance of spin bowling. His left-arm spin was not too effective in the ODIs, but on the wearing surfaces he will find more turn to exploit. With the bat, his form has been pretty good, and it crucial for him to continue in the same vein.
Though Bangladesh have four successive wins against Zimbabwe in their 14 Test encounters, the total success record between the two sides in the longest format favoured the visitors as they bagged six wins against five losses and three draws since April 2001.
In terms of Test series, Zimbabwe win four against two losses and one draw against Bangladesh.
Squads: Bangladesh squad: Mahmudullah Riyad (captain), Imrul Kayes, Liton Kumar Das, Mominul Haque, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim, Ariful Haque, Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Taijul Islam, Abu Jayed, Shafiul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Mohammad Mithun, Khaled Ahmed and Nazmul Islam.
Zimbabwe squad: Hamilton Masakadza (captain), Brian Chari, Craig Ervine, Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams, Sikandar Raza, Peter Moor, Regis Chakabva, Donald Tiripano, Kyle Jarvis, Brandon Mavuta, John Nyumbu, Wellington Masakadza, Ryan Burl, Tendai Chatara and Christopher Mpofu.
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