Zimbabwe prepare against spin threat
Hamilton Masakadza is among five Zimbabwe batsmen who are familiar with the conditions in Bangladesh and therefore, entrusted with the responsibility to counter the home side's spin attack. However, the collective experience of Hamilton, Vusi Sibanda, Sikandar Raza, Brendan Taylor and Elton Chigumbura amounted to only one half-century in the Dhaka Test, as Bangladeshi spinners confounded them with turn and bounce.
Zimbabwe had been preparing for spin knowing it would be the decisive factor in the three-match series, but the quick finish in Dhaka had been a reality check, forcing the team to brainstorm for quick solutions before the Khulna Test. One of them was the use of a square piece of net on the pitch.
"Yeah it helps to some extent, gives spin, bounce and do unusual things so I think it's very good practice for the boys," Hamilton said after an indoor net session. "Some of us in the team have experience with the conditions here so we are trying to put in all the knowledge for the team and let others know about things.
"Lots of different things are being thrown around, people are trying different things, we tried different stuff in the nets today, so there is a lot of discussion going on to try and find the counter of what's been happening."
The coach Stephen Mangongo had said yesterday that the only way to prepare was to practice against the turning ball. However, in the absence of big turners of ball within their ranks, he said the team was dependent on the bowling machine to simulate the real-world problems. The use of the patch of net was an innovative solution, but would it help the team be ready before Khulna? Only time will tell.
Hamilton has played in T20s in Khulna before, but he said the pitch for the Test will be different from the flat ones he had seen in the past and more akin to the one in Dhaka.
"I will expect a similar wicket there. It might have a spin in it and that's what we are training for. All the top six batters have to put in contributions and I didn't contribute in this game so it had a big impact on the team."
In the first innings in Dhaka, Hamilton attempted to hit over the top the second ball he faced from a spinner and was caught at mid-on. In the second, he had faced only six balls of spin before he left an angled delivery from Shahadat Hossain only to see his stumps splayed. "I didn't face too much of spin," he said. "I think I played only six balls or so. I am still backing what I came with from home so I don't see anything to change yet."
Having scored only two half-centuries from the 25 innings he has played for Zimbabwe in Bangladesh, the visitors may not mind a change.
Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo