Zimbabwe v Bangladesh, 2nd Test, Harare April 24, 2013

Can floored Bangladesh fight back?

Match facts

April 25-29, Harare
Start time 1000 (0800 GMT)

Big Picture

Zimbabwe may not experience a change in their position (read Test rankings) in world cricket, but give them a series win against Bangladesh and they would walk away happily. They are 1-0 ahead in this particular contest, and have their rivals in the exact position they'd have wanted just over a week ago: questioning their ability against swing and seam, and with little time and opportunity to lift a crushed morale.

Brendan Taylor's personal build-up to this series has turned heads. Players who have trained with him have noticed a significant rise in intensity, and it resulted in a performance not many on both sides can forget. Also hard to forget would be the threat posed by Kyle Jarvis. The young pace bowler has been a much more skilled quick than the Jarvis Bangladesh faced in 2011. The contributions of Malcolm Waller, Graeme Cremer and Shingi Masakadza could easily be forgotten but they have done no harm to their chances of a future in the national team.

While Taylor will remain steadfast in his batting approach, he would like a few more from seniors like Vusi Sibanda, Hamilton Masakadza and Elton Chigumbura. Also, it would be fair to give another chance to Timycen Maruma and Richmond Mutumbami though they couldn't match the performance of Keegan Meth, their fellow debutant in the first Test.

The 335-run defeat in the first Test couldn't have come at a worse time for Bangladesh, coming in a season in which they have made significant progress. It is hard to forget their showing in their last two series. They were in prime position to beat West Indies in a Test match in November, eventually beat them in a five-match ODI series in December and three months later went on to draw a Test in Sri Lanka and win an ODI there. Those were all justifiable claims for progress but when Bangladesh lose to Zimbabwe, things tend to go haywire.

How they respond in their selection for the second Test, and in their attitude towards Taylor and the swinging deliveries of Jarvis, Meth and Shingi, could define whether they get back on track or are derailed altogether. Bangladesh's fielding too needs a lift, and that could be an easier path to regain their shot confidence in the second Test.

Form guide

Bangladesh: LLDLL (most recent results first)
Zimbabwe: WLLLL

Players to watch

Malcolm Waller was Zimbabwe's second-best batsman in the first Test behind his captain. It was his busy 55 in the first innings that helped to get his side out of a rut. Waller is not a limited player but tends to limit his strokeplay according to the need of the hour. This should be more than encouraging for a batting line-up still not comfortable in its own skin.

In normal circumstances, Shakib Al Hasan would waltz past two low scores but this is a different setting altogether. The team lost by a huge margin, he didn't score nor pick up a wicket, and he has just returned from a lengthy injury lay-off. Not only does he have to shake off the cobwebs, but also help the team win a Test match. Whether the occasion will get to him or not remains to be seen.

Team news

There's hardly a reason to change the Zimbabwe team for the second Test. Kyle Jarvis had been battling a tight quadriceps muscle, forcing him to avoid bowling in the nets on Monday and Tuesday. But he bowled on Wednesday and is fine to play.

Zimbabwe (possible) 1 Timycen Maruma, 2 Vusi Sibanda, 3 Hamilton Masakadza, 4 Brendan Taylor (capt), 5 Richmond Mutumbami (wk), 6 Malcolm Waller, 7 Elton Chigumbura, 8 Graeme Cremer, 9 Kyle Jarvis, 10 Keegan Meth, 11 Shingi Masakadza.

Not picking three seamers in the first Test was a blunder so, with Rubel Hossain ruled out due to a shoulder injury, they could go into this game with Sajidul Islam and Ziaur Rahman after Shafiul Islam's recovery from a side strain was deemed insufficient by the physio. The under-fire Mahmudullah could be replaced by Mominul Haque and if Tamim Iqbal returns, Shahriar Nafees would have to sit out.

Bangladesh (possible) 1 Jahurul Islam, 2 Tamim Iqbal/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 Ziaur Rahman/Shafiul Islam, 10 Sajidul Islam, 11 Robiul Islam.

Pitch and conditions

The ground staff has had four days to prepare the pitch and it has rained on two of those so far. Taylor hoped it will be similar to the pitch they played on in the first Test but did say it might be a bit slower and will take a bit more turn. The weather is expected to be clear over the five days but cooler than it was during the first Test.

Stats and trivia

  • For the second time in its history, the Harare Sports Club will be hosting a second Test match in the space of eight days. The previous occasion was in 1999 when Zimbabwe played Sri Lanka
  • With his 273 runs in the first Test, Brendan Taylor has gone past Bashar as the highest run-getter in Bangladesh-Zimbabwe Tests. In the same vein, Enamul Haque jr is now the highest wicket-taker in these contests, going past Heath Streak's 20 wickets
  • A Taylor-like performance will allow Mohammad Ashraful to become the second Bangladesh player to reach the 3,000-run mark in Test cricket, after Habibul Bashar. He is 271 runs short of the milestone

Quotes

"We just have to focus on day one. We don't want to look too far ahead. We know Bangladesh have players that can turn a game on its head in a session or two so we just back our skills, have a clear mindset and look after our bodies."Brendan Taylor, the Zimbabwe captain

"Zimbabwe are a tough opponent, we always knew that. Although we lost the game we are not defeated. I promise everyone back home in Bangladesh that the players will be doing everything they can to fix it."
Bangladesh coach Shane Jurgensen

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

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