Teams look for fresh start
A glance at Bangladesh's cricket statistics in the last three years would rate Khulna as one of the happier hunting grounds for the Tigers at home.
The Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium, which stands tall along the Khulna-Jessore highway, witnessed a number ten batsman score a century on his Test debut back in the winter of 2012. The player in question, Abul Hasan, is currently on a comeback trail following a series of injuries.
Opener Anamul Haque scored his first century here in the same year. His 120, in only his second ODI, helped the Tigers to a thumping win over the West Indies back then.
In addition, the Tigers enjoy a hundred percent record at the SANS in ODIs. They have won all four ODIS played here. It was a mini-carnival of sorts the last time the Tigers played here in 2012, with immense support pouring during the ODI series against the West Indies.
As a result, the BCB's initial decision to not include Khulna in this tour raised a few eyebrows. A day after the official schedule was announced, a section of the media criticised the move. Soon after the board decided to send an inspection team to Khulna and eventually altered the schedule to make room for a Test here.
It's something that the city, which has produced some of Bangladesh's finest sporting athletes, deserves.
The players had their first training session at the SANS yesterday. Batting was the key weakness for both sides during the first Test. While the Zimbabweans faltered against spin, the hosts looked out of place against the extra bounce that the pacers generated.
Opener Shamsur Rahman, who struggled in both the innings' in the last match, expects the win to boost the batsmen's confidence.
“We want to hold on to the confidence generated from the win. Although we won the last Test, there were a number of mistakes that we committed from which we need to learn. Our batsmen didn't score. We want to get past this and rise from here,” said Shamsur, following Bangladesh's practice session yesterday.
Openers Shamsur and Tamim Iqbal scored the least amount of runs for the hosts in the last Test. This particular problem at the top has been haunting Bangladesh's cricket for a while now.
The last five years have seen just ten 50-plus opening stands for the Tigers. The last century-stand came back in 2010 in England. It compelled the selectors to roll the changes at the top. The last three years have seen the Tigers use seven pairs of openers that have produced just three half-century stands in total.
Shamsur however, hopes that the dreaded patch comes to an end this Monday, when the second Test begins.
Zimbabwe coach Stephen Mangongo has similar thoughts and hopes to make a fresh start.
“We want a new start to the series in Khulna. We have been working quite hard for the last few days and we will give our best to complete a turnaround,” said Mangongo.