Harare: When the cricketing world is gripped by the IPL fever, elsewhere bottom placed Zimbabwe and Bangladesh lock horns in a two-match Test series starting here on Wednesday.
In their last tour, Bangladesh lost the one-off Test, which led to the sacking of Shakib Al Hasan as captain. But their recent performance in Sri Lanka will bolster Bangladesh's hope of putting up a better show. While Zimbabwe marred with problems of injuries to key players and strife have a tough task in their hands.
Shakib's role as a bowler is doubtful as he is recovering from a shin injury and might play as a batsman. The form of Mahmudullah will be a concern and on the other hand Tamim Iqbal is yet to fully recover from a a thumb injury. Moreover, Enamul Haque jr and Sohag Gazi are certain starters for Bangladesh in the first Test. Nasir Hosain who is in good form will be a key batsman for Bangladesh lower down the order considering the vulnerability of the top order.
In the midst of the IPL, two low-key teams get a two-Test series underway at Harare with scores to be settled for Bangladesh from their last visit to Zimbabwe.
On the other hand, Zimbabwe have contract related issues and Craig Ervine being the only player not to sign the contract and instead chose to play club cricket. But the hosts also have some injury woes related to key players like - Christopher Mpofu, Tino Mawoyo and Regis Chakabva and that leaves them without one experienced pacer and two batsmen.
In order to lengthen their batting, Zimbabwe skipper Brendan Taylor might hand over the wicketkeeping duties to Richmond Mutumbani. Brian Vitori, who is likely to sit out the opening Test will make way for Kyle Jarvis with the spin taken care of by Graeme Cremer and Prosper Utseya.
Zimbabwe: 1 Vusi Sibanda, 2 Timycen Maruma, 3 Hamilton Masakadza, 4 Brendan Taylor (capt/wk), 5 Malcolm Waller/Sean Williams, 6 Richmond Mutumbami, 7 Elton Chigumbura, 8 Graeme Cremer, 9 Keegan Meth, 10 Kyle Jarvis, 11 Tendai Chatara
Bangladesh: 1 Jahurul Islam, 2 Shahriar Nafees, 3 Mohammad Ashraful, 4 Shakib Al Hasan, 5 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt/wk), 6 Mahmudullah/Mominul Haque, 7 Nasir Hossain, 8 Sohag Gazi, 9 Enamul Haque jr, 10 Rubel Hossain, 11 Robiul Islam.