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

Mushfiqur quietly confident, Taylor banks on home conditions

12

Height was not the only difference between Brendan Taylor and Mushfiqur Rahim when they posed with the Test series trophy. In the few minutes that the captains stood posing for the cameras, their faces said it all: while Taylor is weighed down with worry, Mushfiqur is buoyed by possibility.

The Zimbabwean camp are doing their best to disguise their difficulties. Although they have been through a period of poor results and financial disputes, if an alien landed in the country, it would not see many differences between Zimbabwean training and practice in most other places in the world.

"We've got a happy camp. We've got a rejuvenated camp. All the other stuff is water under the bridge," Taylor insisted. While watching them go about their preparations in a carefree, unfussed manner, that is easy to believe. When considering that as recently as last week, Craig Ervine walked out on his country to take up a club cricket deal, it is not.

But Zimbabwe are used to these kinds of disruptions. They have been able to play with sideshows going on in the past. They have not been able to win often, but that is not the fault of diversions alone and so they have got used to that too particularly away from home - where they have been playing for more than a year.

Although they regard their poor showings in New Zealand, at the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka and in West Indies with seriousness, they are careful to separate those from what they hope to achieve on their own turf. The comfort of Harare Sports Club is what Taylor hopes will justify his fighting talk.

"I'm sure it will be a testing wicket here with good pace and bounce. I'm sure they'd (Bangladesh) rather be on a lower flatter wicket," he said. "We know they have got to the talent to score big against any team but we hope our bowlers can cause some problems." When Zimbabwe last hosted Bangladesh at this venue, their opening bowlers, Kyle Jarvis and Brian Vitori, both on debut, impressed. Their emergence hinted that Zimbabwe were bucking the trend of relying on spinners and starting to develop quality seamers. Heath Streak oversaw the process and although his contract as bowling coach has not been renewed by Zimbabwe Cricket, the fruits of his labour will be on display.

Four quicks are a possibility with Tendai Chatara, who earned his first Test cap in the West Indies, expected to play alongside a resurgent Elton Chigumbura and a focused Keegan Meth. Jarvis, who has been Zimbabwe's best player since their Test comeback, will lead the attack but Vitori may not appear at all. Injuries have caused him to regress although he looks to be readying for a comeback.

Zimbabwe's batting is the concern especially after it was dismantled by spin in the West Indies. At home, Taylor believes the top four can produce and knows he is a crucial part of that. He managed just 123 runs in his last eight innings but is ready to rectify that. "I've hit thousands of balls since then. I feel my preparation has been excellent," he said.

Mushfiqur has no such pressure. He recently became Bangladesh's first double centurion on the tour of Sri Lanka where they showed real progress. "It's big satisfaction for any captain if you see your team doing well," he said. "Players are taking more responsibility and they prepare well. What we want now is more consistent cricket."

Bangladesh talk in an eerily similar way to the way South Africa do although they are at the opposite end of the Test rankings. Mushfiqur used the word "processes," in the same context Gary Kirsten does when he explains South Africa's approach. "We are thinking of the processes and the basics and we want to improve each series."

He hinted that the team was learning to deal with the expectations of their public because they are a "bit more professional," and promised would use this tour as an "opportunity to change the statistics."

He also brushed off suggestion that Bangladesh will be disadvantaged by the conditions, saying their experience in Pallekele prepared them for less spin-friendly surfaces. "If there is something in the pitch, our quicks will have the same advantage as them so we are looking forward to bowling and batting on it," he said.

Up to that point, the two captains were on an even keel as their sides often are when they take the field. But Taylor conceded the advantage when he admitted Bangladesh had taken further strides than Zimbabwe over the last 20 months because of their depth.

"Being part of the BPL and seeing the development and the number of young players coming through and the talent they have, I know Bangladesh have got a good, balanced side," he said. "We'll have to be on top of our game if we are going to beat Bangladesh." Maybe that realisation caused him to frown and his opposite number to grin.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Fogu on April 16, 2013, 22:34 GMT

    BD needs to be careful. This can be a huge boost if we swept the series but if we lose a game or it can be a huge setback. BD has come a long way and I am confident that they will perform well if they keep their head. BD needs to get used to high expectations. They have not handled pressure well in the past but hopefully this is a new BD. The team seems to maturing well. My playing 11 would be: Jahurul, Shariar, Ashraful, Mushfique, Nasir, Mominul, Mahmudullah, Sohag, Enamul, Rubel & Robiul. I think Shakib should fully recover before playing otherwise he risks aggravating his injury further. Rubel cold be substituted with Sajidul without much difference.

  • ZCFOutkast on April 16, 2013, 19:41 GMT

    In Mushfiqur Bangladesh have arguably the best captain in their history. The opposite is true of Taylor. He is easily the worst man to lead Zimbabwe in it's history. Bereft of tactical acumen, man management and real senior status, he commands very little respect if at all from the rest of the players. The kind of authority that Mushfiqur exhudes when dealing with his charges in the field.

    Unfortunately that's precisely what happens when appointments are made to appeal to certain quarters as opposed to a true leader of the team like Taibu, Price, Hamilton Masakadza or Vusi Sibanda. Taylor was Vusi's deputy at Franchise level and had never captained.

    Hopefully he drags himself out of that rut a contributes with a couple of big knocks. If we are to succeed we need our top 3 batsmen to fire and Taylor is one of them.

  • M_Rakibul_Islam on April 17, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    I don't think BD will repeat their over-confidence of 2011 this time. In fact a weaker BD against almost same Zim side per4med well in 2007 & 2009 tours. So hope BD can win test series now.

  • Ngonizee on April 17, 2013, 6:06 GMT

    goood luck zim. we are with you all the way. go Taylor

  • shaikwasi on April 17, 2013, 4:57 GMT

    BD needs to be relax and play their natural game. Though musfiq have some decent from in batting, but his captaincy is questionable and worst keeper. Enamul should get chance in XI. Best of luck BD.

  • Anti_ZCFOutkast on April 17, 2013, 3:23 GMT

    Taylor and his expert captaincy will lead Zimbabwe to victory.

  • sallu123 on April 17, 2013, 2:16 GMT

    most of these players from zimbabwe have palyed in bpl. they know how to play against bd players. this is the only concern. otherwise bangladesh is ahead than zim.because of recent performance. another thing nasir is being wasted at number 7

  • on April 17, 2013, 0:06 GMT

    Hopefully Bangladesh will be able to show their superior performance over Zimbabwe. Self-confidence will surely be the key for the Tigers; after all, cricket is more of a mental game eventually. Good luck, Bangladesh.

  • on April 16, 2013, 19:09 GMT

    Its wonderful to see Zimb players playing in the BPL. Since they won't invite us to the IPL lets do our own thing.

  • on April 16, 2013, 18:48 GMT

    After the most recent tour of SL I'm slowly getting my confidence back on the Bangladeshi Cricket Team...We may not be the best cricket nation but we certainly have potential, I hope the we develop our team and not get carried away even if the Zimbabwe series is a success. We need to build on our victories and keep aiming higher to beat the top sides or at least perform well and compete against them!

    Come on you Tigers!

  • Fogu on April 16, 2013, 22:34 GMT

    BD needs to be careful. This can be a huge boost if we swept the series but if we lose a game or it can be a huge setback. BD has come a long way and I am confident that they will perform well if they keep their head. BD needs to get used to high expectations. They have not handled pressure well in the past but hopefully this is a new BD. The team seems to maturing well. My playing 11 would be: Jahurul, Shariar, Ashraful, Mushfique, Nasir, Mominul, Mahmudullah, Sohag, Enamul, Rubel & Robiul. I think Shakib should fully recover before playing otherwise he risks aggravating his injury further. Rubel cold be substituted with Sajidul without much difference.

  • ZCFOutkast on April 16, 2013, 19:41 GMT

    In Mushfiqur Bangladesh have arguably the best captain in their history. The opposite is true of Taylor. He is easily the worst man to lead Zimbabwe in it's history. Bereft of tactical acumen, man management and real senior status, he commands very little respect if at all from the rest of the players. The kind of authority that Mushfiqur exhudes when dealing with his charges in the field.

    Unfortunately that's precisely what happens when appointments are made to appeal to certain quarters as opposed to a true leader of the team like Taibu, Price, Hamilton Masakadza or Vusi Sibanda. Taylor was Vusi's deputy at Franchise level and had never captained.

    Hopefully he drags himself out of that rut a contributes with a couple of big knocks. If we are to succeed we need our top 3 batsmen to fire and Taylor is one of them.

  • M_Rakibul_Islam on April 17, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    I don't think BD will repeat their over-confidence of 2011 this time. In fact a weaker BD against almost same Zim side per4med well in 2007 & 2009 tours. So hope BD can win test series now.

  • Ngonizee on April 17, 2013, 6:06 GMT

    goood luck zim. we are with you all the way. go Taylor

  • shaikwasi on April 17, 2013, 4:57 GMT

    BD needs to be relax and play their natural game. Though musfiq have some decent from in batting, but his captaincy is questionable and worst keeper. Enamul should get chance in XI. Best of luck BD.

  • Anti_ZCFOutkast on April 17, 2013, 3:23 GMT

    Taylor and his expert captaincy will lead Zimbabwe to victory.

  • sallu123 on April 17, 2013, 2:16 GMT

    most of these players from zimbabwe have palyed in bpl. they know how to play against bd players. this is the only concern. otherwise bangladesh is ahead than zim.because of recent performance. another thing nasir is being wasted at number 7

  • on April 17, 2013, 0:06 GMT

    Hopefully Bangladesh will be able to show their superior performance over Zimbabwe. Self-confidence will surely be the key for the Tigers; after all, cricket is more of a mental game eventually. Good luck, Bangladesh.

  • on April 16, 2013, 19:09 GMT

    Its wonderful to see Zimb players playing in the BPL. Since they won't invite us to the IPL lets do our own thing.

  • on April 16, 2013, 18:48 GMT

    After the most recent tour of SL I'm slowly getting my confidence back on the Bangladeshi Cricket Team...We may not be the best cricket nation but we certainly have potential, I hope the we develop our team and not get carried away even if the Zimbabwe series is a success. We need to build on our victories and keep aiming higher to beat the top sides or at least perform well and compete against them!

    Come on you Tigers!

  • TheRisingTeam on April 16, 2013, 17:28 GMT

    The last time Bangladesh toured Zimbabwe, they totally underestimated them and batted carelessly but since the have a completely different attitude, are positive instead of negative and have improved a lot in their cricketing skills especially batting. Hopefully though it will still be tough, will see our team through good luck Bangladesh! make us fans proud!

  • on April 16, 2013, 16:57 GMT

    Taylor and other best performer from ZIM played in BPL and know very well the strength and weakness of tigers. All weapons are familiar to them. This is my concern too. Hopefully going to enjoy a very competitive game from both sides. Best of luck Mushi and his fellas.

  • on April 16, 2013, 16:57 GMT

    Taylor and other best performer from ZIM played in BPL and know very well the strength and weakness of tigers. All weapons are familiar to them. This is my concern too. Hopefully going to enjoy a very competitive game from both sides. Best of luck Mushi and his fellas.

  • TheRisingTeam on April 16, 2013, 17:28 GMT

    The last time Bangladesh toured Zimbabwe, they totally underestimated them and batted carelessly but since the have a completely different attitude, are positive instead of negative and have improved a lot in their cricketing skills especially batting. Hopefully though it will still be tough, will see our team through good luck Bangladesh! make us fans proud!

  • on April 16, 2013, 18:48 GMT

    After the most recent tour of SL I'm slowly getting my confidence back on the Bangladeshi Cricket Team...We may not be the best cricket nation but we certainly have potential, I hope the we develop our team and not get carried away even if the Zimbabwe series is a success. We need to build on our victories and keep aiming higher to beat the top sides or at least perform well and compete against them!

    Come on you Tigers!

  • on April 16, 2013, 19:09 GMT

    Its wonderful to see Zimb players playing in the BPL. Since they won't invite us to the IPL lets do our own thing.

  • on April 17, 2013, 0:06 GMT

    Hopefully Bangladesh will be able to show their superior performance over Zimbabwe. Self-confidence will surely be the key for the Tigers; after all, cricket is more of a mental game eventually. Good luck, Bangladesh.

  • sallu123 on April 17, 2013, 2:16 GMT

    most of these players from zimbabwe have palyed in bpl. they know how to play against bd players. this is the only concern. otherwise bangladesh is ahead than zim.because of recent performance. another thing nasir is being wasted at number 7

  • Anti_ZCFOutkast on April 17, 2013, 3:23 GMT

    Taylor and his expert captaincy will lead Zimbabwe to victory.

  • shaikwasi on April 17, 2013, 4:57 GMT

    BD needs to be relax and play their natural game. Though musfiq have some decent from in batting, but his captaincy is questionable and worst keeper. Enamul should get chance in XI. Best of luck BD.

  • Ngonizee on April 17, 2013, 6:06 GMT

    goood luck zim. we are with you all the way. go Taylor

  • M_Rakibul_Islam on April 17, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    I don't think BD will repeat their over-confidence of 2011 this time. In fact a weaker BD against almost same Zim side per4med well in 2007 & 2009 tours. So hope BD can win test series now.