Bangladesh’s reputation as a team that is strong at home is on the line. Zimbabwe go to Dhaka not only with the cushion of a 1-0 lead in a two-Test series, but also the confidence of having dismantled the hosts for less than 200 in both innings in Sylhet. Bangladesh have failed to score more than 200 in eight consecutive Test innings now, a streak that raises plenty of questions.
Imrul Kayes and Liton Das combined well as openers in the ODIs against Zimbabwe, but were guilty of carelessness against deliveries outside off in the first Test. It was a fault that Mominul Haque and Mahmudullah were also guilty of. The responsibility now falls on Mushfiqur Rahim to move up the order – he was at No. 6 in Sylhet – so that he can bat with other batsmen around him, instead of shoring up collapses with the tail for company.
Of Bangladesh’s two debutants in Sylhet, Ariful Haque had two decent outings but Najmul Hossain Shanto, a highly rated young batsman, came under scrutiny after two failures. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Mohammad Mithun makes his Test debut in Najmul’s place.
Zimbabwe scored at run rates of only 2.40 and 2.75 in Sylhet, but their batsmen showed the capability of spending long periods at the crease. And no one better than Sean Williams, who made 88 off 173 balls in the first innings to put Zimbabwe in a position of strength. Hamilton Masakadza and Peter Moor also contributed half centuries to the victory, but Brendon Taylor and Sikandar Raza were short of runs. The visitors will hope their ability to play spin serves them well in Dhaka.
Zimbabwe had little to complain about their bowling. Tendai Chatara and Kyle Jarvis provided early breakthroughs and Raza led the spin attack in both innings, taking six wickets. Newcomers Brandon Mavuta and Wellington Masakadza bowled well in the second innings and will have to play a crucial role in Dhaka as well.
Like they did in Sylhet, Bangladesh’s spinners will have to play a pivotal role in the second Test. Taijul Islam had a superb game with his 11 wickets, but Mehidy Hasan Miraz may look to bowl differently in Dhaka. It will be interesting to see if Bangladesh continue with Nazmul Islam, who doesn’t offer much with his left-arm darts.
Mustafizur Rahman is likely to return to the attack and may share the new ball with Abu Jayed who held his own given the limited opportunities in Sylhet.
It is a must-win game for Bangladesh, who lost to Sri Lanka at home earlier this year too. For Zimbabwe, even a draw would result in only their third Test series victory away from home.
Bangladesh LLLLD (Last five completed matches, most recent first) Zimbabwe WLDLL
In the spotlight
With only 58 runs in his last eight Test innings, Mahmudullah is under some pressure going into the Dhaka Test. He also shoulders the responsibility of captaincy, and will be expected to be more pro-active on the field.
Sikandar Raza’s 6 for 76 in Sylhet were his best match figures in Test cricket. However, Zimbabwe also need runs from him. Raza made starts in two of the three ODIs and in both innings of the first Test, and he will hope to convert them in Dhaka.
Mithun may replace Najmul in Bangladesh’s XI, while Mustafizur is set to return after being rested in Sylhet.
Bangladesh (probable) 1 Imrul Kayes, 2 Liton Das, 3 Mominul Haque, 4 Mohammad Mithun/Najmul hossain Shanto, 5 Mahmudullah (capt), 6 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 7 Ariful Haque, 8 Mehidy Hasan Miraz, 9 Taijul Islam, 10 Mustafizur Rahman, 11 Nazmul Islam/Abu Jayed
There may be a case for Craig Ervine to replace opener Brian Chari, who made 13 and 4 in Sylhet, though Zimbabwe may want to continue with a winning combination.
Zimbabwe (probable) 1 Hamilton Masakadza (capt), 2 Brian Chari, 3 Brendan Taylor, 4 Sean Williams, 5 Sikandar Raza, 6 Peter Moor, 7 Regis Chakabva (wk), 8 Brandon Mavuta, 9 Wellington Masakadza, 10 Kyle Jarvis, 11 Tendai Chatara
Pitch and conditions
There will be considerable pressure on Gamini Silva, the Dhaka curator, after his pitch was given a below-average rating in the last Test held here, against Sri Lanka in February. Dhaka has, over the last two years, dished out raging turners. The weather is forecast to be mostly dry.
Stats and trivia
No cricketer in Bangladesh has played more first-class matches before making a Test debut than Mithun – 88 – if he does play in Dhaka.
No Zimbabwe batsman has played more than one Test at the Shere Bangla Stadium, and Raza is the only one to have made a half-century there.
Taijul and Mehidy have taken 28 and 19 wickets at this venue, at averages of 23 and 21.