Harare, July 27: Zimbabwe will be returning to trying their hand at Test cricket for the first time in six years. Their opponents for his historic upcoming series tour to the African nation is Bangladesh, who themselves haven't played a Test in 14 months. The one-off Test will be followed by 5 one-dayers, in a series which Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan believes his side has the upper-hand for.
"I think we are (ahead), but I won't say that we are too far ahead of them since we're playing in their weather and conditions and playing after a good gap. But still, I think we're the favourites," Shakib said during the pre-tour press conference in Mirpur on Monday. "I am not thinking about it as a problem and as Stuart [Law] said, everyone should be excited and I'm sure they're interested to do well in the Test.
Zimbabwe has garnered some practice and experience against second-string sides of Australia and South Africa, while Bangladesh has just gone through a long fitness camp following their home series against Australia in April.
Newly appointed Bangladesh coach Stuart Law has projected the team's success based on small targets. "It's the mental approach that has to change in Test cricket. They have to find a tempo that suits Test cricket with their batting. If we can find the right tempo, we can post scores that the bowlers can bowl at.
Bangladeshi squad for the Zimbabwe Test possesses just one bowler in Shakib who has taken over 50 Test wickets. The absence of experienced campaigners like Mashrafe Mortaza and Shahadat Hossain could be a concern for the team. "I think [Shahadat Hossain] Rajib is a huge loss," Shakib said. "He's been our best Test bowler for quite a while. But those who are in the team, they're bowling well."
Of those in the squad, Shakib tipped left-arm spinner Abdur Razzak to perform well, saying his record over the last 12 months would have given him the confidence to play Test cricket. "[Abdur Razzak] Raj bhai has been bowling well in the last year or so. I have bowled the most as I was the only chosen spinner in the team but I still think Raj bhai can do well if he's chosen."
Shakib was embroiled in a controversy over team selection on his return from English county cricket, but wants to compensate with a fresh perspective in taking on Zimbabwe. "Opportunities come all the time. It depends on you when you want to change your attitude and the way you go about your work. I think it's a great opportunity to prove myself."