It is often the case that the challenge to do well becomes harder for the less-fancied side when the format switches to Test cricket as momentum has to be maintained for longer in the five-day game. In the preceding ODI series which Bangladesh won 3-0, Zimbabwe were the demonstrably inferior side, but there is a possibility that they may be more optimistic heading into the first of two Tests starting in Sylhet today.
Unlike in ODI cricket, Bangladesh have not improved in leaps and bounds in the longer version, which was in clear evidence during their most recent assignment in the West Indies in July, which they started by being bundled out for their lowest ever score of 43.
“Bangladesh have had an indifferent past in the longer version so for a start in the series, [so] different things are required from each team," Zimbabwe skipper Hamilton Masakadza said in the pre-match press conference yesterday.
“For a start, we are looking to improve on driving the nail. We got ourselves into excellent positions in a couple of the ODIs but we couldn't pull through, so the talk around the changing room has been about pushing through those positions and driving the nail in."
Of course, Zimbabwe have troubles of their own. The bottom-ranked nation hardly play any Tests -- they played eight in the last two years and have accrued just 12 ranking points while ninth-ranked Bangladesh have played 19 in the same period and collected 1,268 points -- and their three-day practice match in Chattogram was severely rain-affected.
“Preparation wasn't ideal. Most of the game was washed out. But we did manage to get on the field for 50 overs on the last day. Just one practice session going into the Test match so the boys are trying to get the most out of it today [Friday].
Although Bangladesh will be missing injured opener Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan's left-arm spin and batting, Zimbabwe will still face the left-arm spin threat from Taijul Islam and likely debutant Nazmul Islam.
“I think they have fewer left-arm spinners this time. It is Bangladesh's strength. We have had a lot of practice against left-arm spin so that'd be enough to tackle the spinners here.
“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 in everything. We have to take this opportunity with both hands, and just go and play our best cricket."