ZIMBABWE return to Test cricket after an eleven month hiatus with skipper Hamilton Masakadza saying the Chevrons are looking to give the opportunity against Bangladesh their best shot when the two-match series against the Tigers get underway today at Sylhet International Cricket Stadium.
The Test series is expected to close a difficult year for Zimbabwe and it comes in the wake of a winless run that started with the Triangular T20I Series at home against Pakistan and Australia in June and through to a limited overs series in South Africa where Zimbabwe suffered an ODI whitewash and a 2-0 loss in the T20I.
Zimbabwe are also looking to dust themselves up following the recent One Day International whitewash by the Tigers.
But opportunities for Test cricket have been few and far between for the Chevrons with their last outing in the long version of the game being the 2017 Boxing Day visit to South Africa, which also ended dismally.
After Dhaka, Zimbabwe are scheduled to play their next Test against India in March 2019 and Masakadza yesterday told reporters that his side is keen to use every opportunity to develop themselves.
“We would like to play a lot more Test cricket but we don’’t, so it is easier to motivate the guys. It is easy to just tell them to go out there and put everything. We don’’t get these opportunities often.
“We have to take this opportunity with both hands, and just go and play our best cricket. We have a long break before our next Test series so it is even more motivation to put in as much as possible now, to take this opportunity.
“We don’’t play a lot of longer-version cricket. We really see the important value of it. We are looking to come out firing. There’’s a lot of experience in the team to choose from, and they will try to work closely with the youngsters, and help them along.
“For a start, we are looking to improve on driving the nail. We got ourselves into excellent positions in couple of the ODIs but we couldn’’t pull through so the talk around the change room has been about pushing through those positions and driving the nail in,’’’’ he told Cricbuzz.
The Zimbabwe captain added that they were disappointed to miss the opportunity of having an ideal preparation as their practice game against BCB XI was largely washed out in Chittagong before they arrived at Sylhet on Thursday, where they were able to hold only one practice session ahead of the series opener.
Masakadza said that Zimbabwe are well prepared to take on the challenge of the hosts’’ spin attack, something that has been a major source of concern in the past for them, and could be again, despite the unavailability of Shakib Al Hasan.
“I think they have fewer left-arm spinners this time. It is Bangladesh’’s strength. We have really been working on it before we left home. We have had a lot of practice against left-arm spin so that’’d be enough to tackle the spinners here,’’’’ said Masakadza.
Both the teams are coming off a string of losses in Test cricket. While Bangladesh haven’’t had a win in their last seven Tests, Zimbabwe’’s losing streak stretches to up to 12 Test matches.
According to a report by Cricbuzz, Bangladesh will step into the series without two of their best players Shakib Al Hasan, who’’s tending to his injured finger, and Tamim Iqbal, who fractured his wrist in the opening Asia Cup encounter and continues to recover.
Mahmudullah will take over as the Test captain, and in a new partnership with Steve Rhodes will try and put Bangladesh’’s Test malaise behind.