Zimbabwe in Bangladesh 2010-11 November 28, 2010

Zimbabwe comfortable with 'underdogs' tag

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It used to be that Zimbabwe carried the tag of 'underdog' into their engagements with every Test nation, bar Bangladesh. In the last five years, however, the two teams have moved in opposite directions and those roles have been well and truly reversed.

Bangladesh beat Zimbabwe for the first time in Harare in March 2004, but Zimbabwe went on to win that rain-ravaged series 2-1 and it was not until Bangladesh's first Test victory over the Zimbabweans, at Chittagong in January 2005, that the worm really turned.

Now, leading his team to Bangladesh for their fourth bilateral series against them in less than two years, Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura insists he is comfortable to let the hosts carry the burden of being singled out as favourites for whom anything less than a convincing series win will be deemed a failure. "Definitely they [Bangladesh] are playing well at home. We are the underdogs but we just need to play our best cricket," he said.

"Bangladesh played well against a better team recently, so they are expected to win. So we are not under pressure. All we have to do is play good cricket and concentrate on our own team and not focus too much on what Bangladesh is doing -the focus is our team. I just need to carry off from where I left off the last time I was here. I will be positive, the team will be even more positive this time; hopefully we will play good cricket and win games."

Similarly, Zimbabwe's coach Alan Butcher conceded that a buoyant Bangladesh, having just handed New Zealand a 4-0 thrashing, will be tough to beat at home but a measure of Zimbabwean success is far from unthinkable. "We will approach every game with the intention to win and if we do that well enough indeed we will win the series," he explained. "I am not going to sit here and promise that we will win this series because Bangladesh will be feeling pretty confident as well. As we went to South Africa we did not really feel we would win the series but it is a lot different here in Bangladesh."

The Zimbabweans' warm-up for this series was the Stanbic Bank 20 Series, a week-long Twenty20 tournament featuring the five domestic franchises - each with several overseas players on their books. Prior to that, in October they travelled to South Africa where, despite losing every game, there were signs of positive development; particularly from the batsmen.

"We got some good reviews from our performances in South Africa," said Butcher. "However we did not win any games and we have come here to play some good cricket and win some games. We've prepared well and taken a look at the conditions and it is going to be totally different from those in South Africa and we have prepared for them as well."

Zimbabwe, for several years ostracised from mainstream international cricket, have become very used to playing Bangladesh in the last half-decade. They have met in no less than nine series in that time, with Bangladesh winning all but one of those. Despite their abysmal win record in those encounters, both Zimbabwe's captain and coach insist that the experience gained over the years will stand the team in good stead - and the current tour will only help preparations for next year's World Cup.

"So far it is pretty comfortable," Butcher said of his team's adjustment to the tropical conditions. "It is warm in Zimbabwe at the moment, so heat should not be a problem. A lot of the guys have played here before -the likes of Elton [Chigumbura], Prosper [Utseya] and Ray Price who have been here before. This is their sixth visit and they have plenty of experience playing here. Dew and humidity may be a factor but we are going to deal with any eventuality."

"I don't think the conditions have changed much here as I have been here plenty of times," added Chigumbura, who has played 37 international matches against Bangladesh. "I just need to use the experience I have gathered and use it properly. We expect that [slow, low pitches] here and the guys are working on it in the hope that it will come right during the games as well. It will be good to play here to prepare ourselves for the World Cup."

Though Zimbabwe were crushed 4-1 the last time they visited Bangladesh - including the humiliation of being skittled for just 44 to surrender the series in the fourth ODI at Chittagong - bowling coach Heath Streak believes they are a much improved unit and are eager to show just how far they have come.

"We played a lot between now and then and we had a good series at home against Sri Lanka and India and quite a competitive series against South Africa," said Streak." Of course we have Chigumbura and Taibu and Taylor who are all in really good form. We also have some good spinners so they will also plan to see how they play our spinners better. We are going to respect them but we are also here to prove that we are getting better and we deserve to get back into the Test arena."

"It will be a factor in how people perceive Zimbabwe cricket," Butcher responded when asked if a series win would be a boost to Zimbabwe's return to Test cricket. "Should we win the series after Bangladesh demolished New Zealand, people will have to sit up and take notice and respect Zimbabwe cricket and feel that it is on an upward path again."

Liam Brickhill is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • pallabi27 on November 30, 2010, 9:16 GMT

    @kudzie Chimbanje, There is no toothless tiger in the whole world. When they die they die with their teeth. Bangladesh don't even need to use their teeth to hunt Zimbabwe. Their sharp claws are good enough to complete the task.

  • dummy4fb on November 30, 2010, 3:16 GMT

    Its just hilarious that some peoples are expecting that ZIM will win the series against Bangladesh in Bangladesh. Don't want to mention Nz series rather than that look about last 3 years what we've played in different form. Well we lost to Ire and Holland buts that's only dark spots. Anyway interested peoples are requested to see the match against BCB XI. http://www.espncricinfo.com/bangladesh-v-zimbabwe-2010/engine/match/486519.html

  • dummy4fb on November 30, 2010, 2:20 GMT

    Dis is a great time to show how both of the teams improved(zim/ ban). I dont think we sud get over confident on how zim wont be able to beat us. Zim has gotten better since the last time we faced them. I watch the zim play and im not surpized how dey play in da couple of months. Ban also hav been playing very good cricket lately but dat doesnt give dem the rite to over look da Zim. I am hoping for a good series between dem. So ill give Ban slight edge over da Zim winning it 3-2.

  • dummy4fb on November 29, 2010, 17:48 GMT

    I'm going to make some comments about Bangladesh team selection. I am for dumping Junaid Siddiqui and Raqibul for ODI's (Raqibul is good for test though, as he takes too much time to settle in the crease). I advocate for Fazle Mahmud and Asif Ahmed as replacement. Saghir Hussain is a good backup wicket-keeper, and Naeem Islam deserves a permanent position for his batting only in the middle order. His spin bowling is a bonus. Finally, I pray for Ashraful. He better prove his mettle this time. He must understand that he still has many things to learn. He needs more focus in judging balls before hitting them.

  • SABD on November 29, 2010, 17:46 GMT

    @Kudzie: Zimbabwe found "toothless" against a spinner of Bangladesh Under-19s. The Zimbabwe supporters here resemble the Zimbabwe cricketers perfectly: talk big but useless on the field. You people are too happy registering wins against second string Ind and Sri Lanka sides because that's what Zim can achieve at its best, bar some rare upsets. You brag about the series with SA where you lost a match by 275 runs!!!

  • Farsi85 on November 29, 2010, 15:09 GMT

    Stile there is a doubt about the team Bangladesh.I can remember the quote of Ramiz Raja' Pakistan and Bangladesh have the similar problem with their performance,they can beat or to be beaten by any team rather then their good or bad form.I think Rokibul and Mushfiqur Rahim should be removed from the current Squad.

  • kingstonian78 on November 29, 2010, 12:28 GMT

    Toothless Tigers...i like that! Come on Zim!!

  • dummy4fb on November 29, 2010, 12:21 GMT

    @ Tahmid, very well responded regards the comments Vilander... not sure why those Indian always comments against us. I would like add in here more... @ Vilander... Don't forget India used to be weaker opponent in overseas..I don't have to go that far.. if I recall... they even didn't win any test series against Zimbabwe in Zimbabwean soil. Moreover- they took 25 years to get their 1st ever test victory whether we already won 3 tests within our 10 years. And I strongly believe- we don't have to wait another 15 years to be strong opponent. Trust me - we are on the way to be competitive opponents in test cricket ... & shouldn't be too long to win the series against your country India. I hope... till you didn't forget 2007 WC slapped... cant wait to see another one 2011! So please please... if are too SHY to be optimistic about BD cricket - then don't comment about us.

  • dummy4fb on November 29, 2010, 11:33 GMT

    Sorry to Zimbauwan supporters...ur team has already lost by 23 runs in warm up match at BKSP....isn't it enough to prove which side is better???This match was only d eve of roar...so be ready to take on Tigers....

  • dummy4fb on November 29, 2010, 11:02 GMT

    guys look at e bigger picture here....zim has done massive improvments since last tym out, forget south africa al zim nids 2 do z get rid of shakib al hassan early..ray price shld du that-he spins a wicked ball...taylor and chigumbura do e job wit e bat...e best wicket keeper at e moment taibu wil bring an all round performance!

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