Harare, Aug 4: No less than 6 years have passed since Zimbabwe last donned their Test whites. An overhaul of the side prompted by the country's political crisis saw a number of top players leave the fold while a motley crew of new recruits took their place. Now, seventy-one months on, the young side appears to have come of age and are all set to take on old foes Bangladesh in a one-off Test match.
The signs in the backyard of the African nation have been abuzz with positive indicators. The first-class circuit is galvanising interest from players and supporters, better coaching schemes have taken root and the game has grown and developed. The present team seems to be a far cry from the immature inductees that were trounced by India in the 2005 series.
Their opponents for this historic comeback Test Bangladesh, have also been off the Test scene for over a year now and their diary shows that like Zimbabwe, they have lost all their previous five Test encounters. Now they will be emboldened by the prospect of defeating a somewhat equally-matched side.
Brendon Taylor who recently assumed the role of Zimbabwe captain, will come under immense scrutiny as he takes on the mantle of middle-order's driving force. After all, he boasts a first-class average of over 40 and has impressed with a recent 85 against Australia A.
Meanwhile, arguably Bangladesh's most talented cricketer Mohammad Ashraful, will return to the ranks after being dropped for April's home-series against Australia. Ashraful has taken on Zimbabwe on several occasions, being the only man in the current squad to have visited this country in 2004.
A scintillating contest is on the cards with these two minnow teams playing not for points or a surge in ranking, but for pure pride.
Zimbabwe: (probable) 1 Tinotenda Mawoyo, 2 Vusi Sibanda, 3 Hamilton Maskadzaa, 4 Brendan Taylor (capt), 5 Tatenda Taibu (wk), 6 Craig Ervine, 7 Elton Chigumbura, 8 Kyle Jarvis, 9 Ray Price, 10 Chris Mpofu, 11 Brian Vitori Mahmudullah was the only
Bangladesh: (probable) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes, 3 Junaid Siddique, 4 Shahriar Nafees, 5 Mohammad Ashraful, 6 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 7 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 8 Mahmudullah, 9 Shafiul Islam, 10 Rubel Hossain, 11 Robiul Islam