Will there be home advantage against Zimbabwe? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 18, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:05 AM, February 18, 2020

Will there be home advantage against Zimbabwe?

International cricket is set to return to the country for the first time in 2020 as Bangladesh will host Zimbabwe, starting with the lone Test from February 22 at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.

Things have not gone well for the Tigers, especially in the longest format, in the recent past and the Bangladesh team management will be eager to return to winning ways against Zimbabwe, who were competitive in their last series, at home against Sri Lanka.

There have been a lot of questions about Bangladesh's approach in the longest format as the Tigers have lost all five Tests in 2019 and started off the new year with a punishing innings and 44-run defeat to Pakistan in the first Test in Rawalpindi.

Bangladesh have lost five of their last six Tests by innings margins, forcing selectors to make frequent changes to the side.

Apart from the inability to adapt to the longest format of the game the team management have also seemed clueless when it comes to reading pitches, both at home and abroad.

Alarmingly, while most international sides look to exploit the home advantage with the pitch, Bangladesh have generally appeared confused about how to use home conditions to their advantage and form an appropriate playing eleven.

The last Test that Bangladesh played at home ended in a humiliating 224-run defeat against Afghanistan, who were playing just their third Test, at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram.

During that loss, the team management did not field any seamer in the playing eleven but it was the visitors who were able to take the advantage from the pitch as Rashid Khan took a toll on the home side with his leg-spin.

The lack of clarity from the Bangladesh team management, when it comes to a proper game plan in the longest format, has subsequently hurt the Tigers' approach and brought about results like the 151-run defeat against Zimbabwe in the first Test in Sylhet back in 2018.

It was the confused approach from the Bangladesh team management that led the Tigers to defeat against Zimbabwe as the home side fielded just one seamer, expecting a spin-friendly track. But it was the visitors who went on to enjoy all the advantage with their two specialist pacers in the side after the Sylhet pitch behaved in a sporting manner, with bounce and carry.

However, the ploy of tailor-made spin tracks in 2016 and 2017 did work well for Tigers at home where Bangladesh went on to beat England and Australia in Mirpur.

The Tigers did register a thumping innings and 184-run win over West Indies back in December 2018 in their last game in Mirpur, courtesy of a spinning track and once again, it is the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium that is going to host the lone Test against Zimbabwe.

It will be interesting to see whether head coach Russell Domingo opts for the same spin-heavy strategy against Zimbabwe in Mirpur. However, the selectors included five seamers and two specialist spinners in the squad, as speculations over the pitch in Mirpur will once again take centre stage and the question remains, what will be the Tigers' strategy this time?

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