Zimbabwe v Bangladesh, 1st Test, Harare April 16, 2013

Lightweights scrap to bolster reputation


Big Picture

April 17-21, Harare
Start time 1000 (0800 GMT)

Big Picture

If these two teams were geographically closer, their running battles over the years would have gathered more edge and may have prompted a nickname for their matches. As nations, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are only tied together by their placing in international cricket, right down at the bottom of the Test-playing countries pile.

In this year's battle of prestige, the visitors have their noses ahead after an impressive last 18 months. Bangladesh have learned the harsh lessons in their last tour to Zimbabwe where they lost the one-off Test and also went down in the ODI series. It brought about major changes in the side, the biggest of them being the sacking of Shakib Al Hasan as captain and the subsequent appointment of Mushfiqur Rahim. The change at the top has made Bangladesh a more stable line-up, reflecting in their results.

After completing their most successful tour of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh should be mentally a stronger side. They have a few more confident batsmen, which ensures a middle-order less prone to collapse. An offspinner has emerged while players with more experience have fought their way back into the team. The pace attack is worrisome, but the biggest hole in the team's psyche remains their lack of knowledge of winning a Test match, the last of which came almost four years ago.

Zimbabwe on the other hand had won that game against Bangladesh in 2011, a confidence-boosting victory as it was their first Test on return from self-imposed exile. But they have not enjoyed success since, and theirs is a side mired in disputes and injuries. They have managed to recover mostly unscathed from what looked like a dire situation surrounding player payment, Craig Ervine being the only player who didn't sign the contract. But injuries have wrecked havoc: Christopher Mpofu (lower back), Tino Mawoyo (groin) and Regis Chakabva (finger) are out, leaving the team without one experienced seamer and two batsmen.

The hosts have named a 21-member squad just in case, but their bigger worry is the quiet confidence of the opposition. An interesting contest is ahead, over the weekend, if Zimbabwe can take full advantage of home advantage, but Bangladesh's previous experiences in this country have fitted them with pragmatism.

Form guide

Bangladesh: LDLLL (most recent results first)
Zimbabwe: LLLLL

Players to watch

Kyle Jarvis burst onto the scene in his debut Test two years ago against the same opponents. He would be expected to spearhead the attack this time, having gathered some experience during this period. Apart from a strong action, Jarvis can be expected to swing the ball in favourable conditions.

Nasir Hossain's first international foray came against Zimbabwe; he will have happy memories of scoring 63 on ODI debut there. His current form should help him continue his good work from the previous visit, as he remains an important batsman coming in at No. 7 for a team that is prone to a collapse.

Team news

Zimbabwe will have to make a number of changes, with Mpofu, Mawoyo and Ervine unavailable for their various reasons. To lengthen the batting line-up, captain Brendan Taylor could give the wicketkeeping gloves to Richmond Mutumbani. They are likely to continue with the spin duo of Graeme Cremer and Prosper Utseya, but the pace combination could see Bangladesh's tormentor from the last tour, Brian Vitori, sit out.

Zimbabwe (probable) 1 Vusi Sibanda, 2 Timycen Maruma, 3 Hamilton Masakadza, 4 Brendan Taylor (capt & wk), 5 Malcolm Waller/Sean Williams, 6 Richmond Mutumbami, 7 Elton Chigumbura, 8 Graeme Cremer, 9 Keegan Meth, 10 Kyle Jarvis, 11 Tendai Chatara

Bangladesh have a problem in balancing a line-up that could see Shakib Al Hasan in only a limited bowling role. After a shin problem, Shakib is working on a rehab programme. While he will definitely play as a batsman, it's still 50-50 on whether he will bowl. Tamim Iqbal's thumb injury hasn't healed enough, while the form of Mahmudullah is another concern. Mominul Haque could make way for Shakib, while Enamul Haque jr could play alongside Sohag Gazi.

Bangladesh (probable) 1 Jahurul Islam, 2 Shahriar Nafees, 3 Mohammad Ashraful, 4 Shakib Al Hasan, 5 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk), 6 Mahmudullah/Mominul Haque, 7 Nasir Hossain, 8 Sohag Gazi, 9 Enamul Haque jr, 10 Rubel Hossain, 11 Robiul Islam.

Pitch and conditions

The pitch is not considered to be too lively, because of the mild weather conditions during this time of the year. It has good, fairly consistent carry, and is likely to be flat.

Stats and trivia

  • This will be only the second Test at the Harare Sports Club in the month of April. The previous occasion was in 2001, also against Bangladesh
  • Out of three Bangladesh captains to tour Zimbabwe, Naimur Rahman and Shakib Al Hasan lost their jobs after losing Test series there


"We have had hard moments but we still have our smiles and we still keep going. Life goes on. It's just one little blip and we come back and we play cricket."
Zimbabwe's caretaker coach, Stephen Mangongo, stays positive

"I have tried to find a way that works with the players and give them freedom. At the same time we want to have a disciplined environment, and we want to have fun. We just have a team focus and ensure that everyone steps up for the team."
Bangladesh's coach, Shane Jurgensen, on team ethic

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Chris on April 17, 2013, 10:07 GMT

    Playing positive Cricket is very important from Bangladesh.

  • Dummy4 on April 17, 2013, 7:42 GMT

    Bowlers are the main fact of concern in this BD team. Otherwise we have a stronger batting line-up then any top level cricket team I guess. So if our bowlers can bowl with consistency, the matches will be with Bangladesh.

  • Dummy4 on April 17, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    shariar nafees is a better option than mahmudullah riad,,shahriar nafees always plays decent game g in longer version if you check his record.

  • Manesh on April 17, 2013, 7:27 GMT

    ICC should seriously think about 4 day test matches for BD, ZIM, AFG and Ire. Only top team from this group should play 5 days test against rest of the test playing nations for 1 or 2 years. Countries who enjoy test status by recommendation or based on previous wins are disgrace to test cricket.

  • mohammad on April 17, 2013, 7:19 GMT

    wjkalana Abul Hasan and Rubel Hossen can bowl at 140 km consistently.

  • Mohammad Mukhlesur on April 17, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    Bangladesh will won the series. Good Luck for BD Tigers

  • Rakib on April 17, 2013, 7:12 GMT

    I want shakib to perform well in this series and regain the place where he has been for past few years-no. 1 all-rounder. Also hope mahmudulla can bring an end to his poor run in recent past and go back to atleast a decent form. For Nasir,He just continue to keep flowing his wheel of run the way he is ran in srilanka. Go tigers

  • Dummy4 on April 17, 2013, 7:12 GMT

    Good luck to both teams here. I think Zimbabwe will win this as Jarvis is the stand out quick bowler in this series, their batting should do a lot better than they did in the West Indies where the big turning pitches got the better of them. Still it will be a good battle and could easily go either way.

  • Dummy4 on April 17, 2013, 7:10 GMT

    Go Tigers. if BD can play their 75% of their capabiblity, Hope win all match in this Zimbabwe series. Donn't take pressure, play with relux and enjoy!

  • Dummy4 on April 17, 2013, 7:00 GMT

    Looking at the recent form guide of both teams, I think the mighty Bangladesh are favourites here with 1D match in last 5 played matches. Lololol. Just Kidding. :p