Bangladesh start as favourites

LONDON - Ten months into 2014 and Zimbabwe will only play their second Test of the year.Brendan Taylor will lead out a team full of spunk, something that Michael Clarke's Australia would vouch for after losing to them in an ODI recently.

Zimbabwe's opponents have been starving for a noteworthy win for the last 12 months.

Bangladesh's last significant performance was drawing both Tests against New Zealand and beating them 3-0 in the ODIs in October last year.

The bleak period has brought upon a lot of negativity, but against Zimbabwe, their nearest rivals, a change in attitude and better results are expected.

For Mushfiqur Rahim, this is a chance to turn his fortunes around as the captain. He has been one of the in-form batsmen, but the perception is that the 12 ODI losses have undermined his captaincy.

The BCB's decision to replace him as ODI captain with Mashrafe Mortaza can be a blessing in disguise for Mushfiqur, as it will mean leaving aside one extra burden.

His wicketkeeping has also come under scrutiny. In contests where the team making less mistakes will most likely be on the winning side, his alertness behind the stumps will be important for Bangladesh.

For Zimbabwe, it is yet another opportunity to give a good account of themselves in Tests. They have a longer opportunity this time, having a three-Test series after more than a decade, but a lot will depend on how they start with the bat and ball.

The top order will be asked to provide more than forties and fifties while Taylor will have to anchor the innings.

Their lower middle order has troubled Bangladesh in the past, and though it is an area of batting that often goes unnoticed, Zimbabwe can hit the home side hard.

The return of Shakib Al Hasan for Bangladesh, after serving a truncated suspension, could ultimately make the difference between the two sides.

But that would also depend on how much time the allrounder would need to adjust to international cricket, having not played much since June.

Mominul Haque is Bangladesh's leading run-scorer in Tests this year, and was one of the few performers in West Indies last month.

He will be expected to take control of the game from his No. 4 position and make sure he supports the more senior batsmen in the top and middle order.

Zimbabwe's batting too depends a lot on their No. 4. Brendan Taylor made 93 in the team's last Test, against South Africa.

He is Zimbabwe's highest scorer against Bangladesh and made a big impact with the bat in the Test series last year. – Cricinfo

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