By Kevin Mapasure
The Zimbabwe national cricket team will look to carry the momentum gained from their last Test match against Sri Lanka when they take on the Tigers of Bangladesh in their own conditions in a one-off Test match that starts at the weekend.
Zimbabwe arrived in Bangladesh on Saturday ahead of their two-day warm-up match against a Bangladesh side starting tomorrow.
Upon arrival, the tourists, who will also play three one-day internationals and two T-20 matches on their visit, declared that they were looking to win every series that they will be involved in.
Captain Craig Ervine, standing in for regular Test skipper Sean Williams, who stayed on for the birth of his first child, acknowledged that it will be tough beating Bangladesh in their own background, but pointed out that their regular visits to the Asian country had given them enough experience to deal with whatever is thrown at them.
“We came here to win. We had a good series against Sri Lanka. It’s given us some momentum after having a long break previously to that series,’’ Ervine told the media at Mirpur Sher-a Bangla Stadium.
He said Zimbabwe had toured Bangladesh more than any other international team and they will look to use their vast knowledge of the conditions.
“A lot of countries that have toured here have struggled with the conditions. We are one of the teams that have come here more often than any other country around the world. We are familiar with these conditions and spin will play a big part. It is something we have to take care of leading on the test match.’’
Former skipper Brendan Taylor believes that Zimbabwe can ride on the form that they picked up in their drawn second Test against Sri Lanka in Harare.
Zimbabwe dominated that match for four days, but were frustrated by both the rains on day four as well as the tourists’ resolute batting on the final day.
But they picked up a lot of positives from that match in which Williams scored a century before Sikandar Raza Butt took seven wickets in Sri Lanka’s first innings.
Taylor told reporters in Bangladesh that despite them failing to win the match in the end they will be motivated by the performance in the second Test last month.
“We have had two good Test matches that went five days against Sri Lanka. We took a lot of positives from that. Hopefully, we can carry that on to the Test (against Bangladesh),” Taylor said.
Zimbabwe will play their Test against Bangladesh at Dhaka’s Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium from February 22.
“Bangladesh have always been very difficult to… (beat) here. We know what we are up against… But we look forward to it,” the 34-year-old Taylor said.
Bangladesh are currently in a bad run of form in Tests, losing their last six matches – three of them by an innings margin – but Taylor warned that would not give his side any comfort.
“I think they always play well at home. That’s their comfort zone, where they thrive … and always have a good record,” he said.
Bangladesh have dropped Mahmudullah in one of four changes to the squad with Rubel Hossain, Al-Amin Hossain and Soumya Sarkar also having been axed. There were comebacks for Mushfiqur Rahim, Taskin Ahmed, Mehidy Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman. Rookie medium-pacer Hasan Mahmud and batsman Yasir Ali will be looking to debut.
Zimbabwe will also look at their last performance when they visited Bangladesh in 2018 when they forced a series draw in the red ball format of the game.
Bangladesh had to come back from behind to force the share of the spoils in the series with Zimbabwe, having won the first Test by 151 runs after Williams, Hamilton Masakadza and Peter Moor all scored half centuries.
Raza also did well with the ball taking a total of six wickets in the match.
In the second Test, which they lost by 218 runs, Brendan Taylor scored two centuries (110 and 106 not out) and he will be looking to lead the way with the bat.
There are only three survivors from that series with Taylor, Regis Chakabva and Raza being the only one to have played Tests in that series from the squad currently in Bangladesh.