Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
AFTER the excitement that greeted their rare and sensational win in the first Test, Zimbabwe’s Chevrons know it is time to focus on the second game which begins at the Shere-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka tomorrow.
The Chevrons beat the Tigers by 151 runs to lead the two match Test series 1-0.
That victory, which was largely welcomed as a big morale booster, especially coming after five years since they tasted a win in Test cricket, should help spur them on tomorrow as they push to atone for all the misery they have gone through in recent months.
In fact, 2018 ranks as one of the most disappointing years in international cricket for Zimbabwe.
They have suffered several heartbreaks, including the failure to qualify for next year’s ICC World Cup in a tournament they hosted in March and soon afterwards they experienced a prolonged drought, which included 13 ODI defeats and eight T20 losses.
The Chevrons do not play Tests often and they have rarely won games away from home.
Their midweek success was their first win overseas in 17 years and the visitors led by their veteran captain Hamilton Masakadza would be eyeing to wrap up their last assignment of the year on a high by clinching a clean sweep.
Zimbabwe coach Lalchand Rajput should be pleased by the spirit demonstrated by his charges in the first game and is obviously praying that they carry a strong mental attitude into the decisive duel in Dhaka.
They have a further psychological edge in that Test records against Bangladesh are in their favour.
Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have played 15 times, with the Chevrons winning seven and losing five. The remaining duels ended in draws.
While it is always not advisable to change the winning team, Zimbabwe could be tempted to re-look at their opening partnership, where Brian Chari has struggled to get runs on the board.
This could pave the way for middle -order batsman Craig Ervine, who is part of the squad in Bangladesh.
Masakadza has been the top performer for the touring unit as he managed to reap in a total of 51 and 48 during his stay in both the innings.
All-rounder Sean Williams, who is the current leading scorer in the series with 108 runs under the belt, is also one man to bank on.
He was given the man of the match award in the first Test for his contributions and that should have been a huge consolation for the all-round who missed his second Test ton by merely 12 runs in his first innings knock.
Generally, Zimbabwe expect improved performances from their batsmen, who are largely yet to come to the party, especially in face of the wicked Bangladesh spin.
The positive thing is that the bowling unit has been promising and if they continue with their performances tomorrow, Zimbabwe could be poised for another big win.
The likes of Kyle Jarvis, Tendai Chatara, Sikandar Raza and Brandon Mavuta have had some top class acts.
For Bangladesh, it will be an some operation to restore pride.
They are likely to come a hugely changed side with a different mindset.
The Tigers need to save the series by doing everything in the book to win the second Test.
Their batsmen need to raise their hands up to stop the slide that has seen them going on a dismal record of eight innings without breaching the 200-run mark in Tests since February this year.
Yet they have some good and experienced players in the likes of Imrul Kayes, Mushfiqur Rahim and skipper Mohammad Mahmudullah.
All-rounder Ariful Haque also showed instinct with the bat in his Test debut last week and is a huge prospect for the hosts in their quest to level the series.
Their spin bowling department led by Taijul Islam is tipped to trouble Zimbabwe in the second Test.
Their coach Steve Rhodes has since insisted that they need to bounce back.
“I don’t feel pressure,” Rhodes told reporters in Sylhet.
“These guys are really determined to put things right and that’s what I love about the Bangladeshi dressing room.
“They keep surprising me and they keep bouncing back.
“Everybody has a bad day . . . we had a really bad day’s work in that first innings while batting,” he said.