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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bangladesh depart for Harare with high hopes

Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim bats in nets in an individual training session ahead of Zimbabwe tour at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium centre wicket on Tuesday. — New Age   
The Bangladesh national cricket team will board for their crucial tour of Zimbabwe today with their sight firmly focused on ending their drought of winning a Test series with their confidence sky-high after their recent performances.
Bangladesh defeated the West Indies by a 2-0 margin four years ago to bring their first Test series win outside the country and a repetition of a similar feat is expected after the Tigers have raised their standard in recent matches.
The success in Sri Lanka, where Bangladesh earned a draw in the first Test and gave the hosts a run in the second Test also raised some expectation for Zimbabwe series. 
Bangladesh will begin their campaign with the first Test from April 17 at Harare, which will also host the second Test from April 25. The Tigers will then move to Bulawayo to play the three-match ODI series and the two match Twenty20 international series.
In 2011, Bangladesh were unable to avail the opportunity of clinching their second overseas Test series win as they lost by 130 runs against Zimbabwe on their Test return after six years in exile.
The defeat in the one off series eventually brought a wholesale change in the team leadership with Mushfiqur Rahim replacing Sakib al Hasan as captain.
However, since then the team has developed under the leadership of Mushfiq and the unit, along with the inclusion of Sakib al Hasan after an injury layoff, had all the credentials to settle their score in Zimbabwe.
Bangladesh have played 16 Test matches since their last Test win in 2009 against the Caribbeans, earning two draws and 14 defeats but it hardly reflects the true picture of their potential.
They were extremely competitive against the West Indies at home last year and followed that up with a good show in Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwean cricket had a torrid time both on and off the field as they lost all of their six Test matches since their win over Bangladesh while the players are threatening to boycott the cricket board on the payment issue.
All-rounder Nasir Hossain was confident that they could come up victorious despite knowing that it would be hard for them to beat the hosts at their own backyard.
‘I think they are a very difficult opponent at their own backyard. They are well prepared to give us a hard time but we are confident we will overcome that,’ Nasir told reporters on Tuesday at Mirpur.
Bangladesh have encountered Zimbabwe in eight Test meetings, winning once, drawing twice with the Southern African nation winning five times and Nasir emphasised on the importance of handling pressure well, keeping in mind their paltry record against Zimbabwe.    
‘When we play against a big team we have nothing to lose and we can play 100 per cent without any pressure but while playing against a team like Zimbabwe we always have that pressure of trying not to lose,’ said Nasir.
‘If we can overcome that pressure (expectation) then we will be able to play normal cricket and achieve our goal,’ said Nasir, who made his international debut in that ill-fated 2011 Zimbabwe tour.
Even though Bangladesh were unable to take part in any practice session ahead of the series, it hardly mattered to all-rounder Nasir who felt that they could recover during the five-day break between their arrival and first Test.
‘We just had a tour of one month so we are not out of practice. In Zimbabwe we will get a few days off before the start of the series and that would help us to recover,’ said Nasir.
 ‘It is due to the prevailing condition of the country that we opted for safety first. Even if we went through practice, it would not have been more than two days and I don’t feel that we could have made a huge difference in this short span of time,’ said Nasir.
The New Age

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