On paper, Zimbabwe are far off from matching the experience, strength and quality possessed by Bangladesh, their opponents in the lone Test starting from tomorrow at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.
And maybe when there is a series against Zimbabwe, the side lingering at the bottom in every format, even a ninth-ranked Test side like Bangladesh may opt to take a lenient approach.
After all, Zimbabwe went more than a year without playing Test. The side that had their ICC membership suspended in July 2019 following government interference in the running of the board had played a Test against Bangladesh in November 2018 and since then have played just two more Tests, during their tour of Sri Lanka last month.
Even in 2018, it was only after a shocking but deserving 151-run thumping by Zimbabwe in Sylhet that the Mahmudullah Riyad-led Bangladesh were able to salvage a draw in the two-Test series with a 218-run win in Mirpur in the following game.
That Zimbabwe side went through some major changes and add to the fact that they have been away from the longest version, considered the toughest format of all, for over a year, one might think that their Test skills have become rusty.
But Zimbabwe reminded that they did not forget how to play Tests on their tour of Sri Lanka. Although they lost the first Test in Harare by 10 wickets, for the majority of the second and final Test, it was Zimbabwe who dictated terms before a magnificent unbeaten ton from Kusal Mendis on the fifth day salvaged a draw for the Islanders.
Skipper Sean Williams' century, all-rounder Sikandar Raza recording his best figures and the second-best bowling figures by a Zimbabwean of seven for 113 in a Test innings and the contributions with the bat from Raza and Brendan Taylor had almost sealed a win for the visitors.
Such inspiring performances from Raza, Williams and Taylor even after returning to the toughest form of cricket following a considerable gap prove that the one thing that the Zimbabwe still possess is their fighting spirit.
During the time Zimbabwe spent in Test exile,
Bangladesh played a total of five Tests and lost by an innings margin in four of them, the other being a 224-run thumping by Test rookies Afghanistan at home. The Tigers stretched their list of Test defeats to six when they lost to Pakistan, again by an innings margin, in Rawalpindi earlier this month.
Bangladesh might have had plenty of resources and opportunities compared to Zimbabwe during this period but the one thing that was missing from the struggling Bangladesh side was the very thing that Zimbabwe displayed during their Sri Lanka tour -- fighting spirit.
Bangladesh have looked wayward and the urgency to win a game was always missing from the Tigers' squad during the bleak period.
It would be very foolish of the Mominul Haque-led side to think that they can get back to winning ways by simply playing regular cricket against Zimbabwe and even Bangladesh Cricket Board President Nazmul Hassan acknowledged the tough challenge that awaits the Tigers.