Apr 162013

The last time these two sides faced each other, incidentally at this venue in Harare, the Zimbabweans walked away with a good 130-run victory, and that was the last time they won a Test.

The Tigers, on the other hand, have not won a five-day game in nearly four years, though they have come on in leaps and bounds in the past year, with impressive performances against both the West Indies and Sri Lanka.

These are the two bottom sides in the Test rankings, and this series is somewhat of an afterthought as the rest of the world rests or plays in the IPL. But the importance of the two games must not be discounted, given that experience breeds confidence.

Bangladesh will be boosted by the return of premier all-rounder Shakib-al-Hasan, who missed the Sri Lanka series with a calf injury. He is not fully healed though, and is unlikely to bowl much, if at all, in this game. Opening batsman Tamim Iqbal is out of action but in the squad, still nursing a fractured thumb.

Zimbabwe have a number of absentees, which is why they have named a larger than usual squad. Fast bowler Chris Mpofu is out with a lower back injury, while Craig Ervine is missing as he didn’t sign the new ZC contract.

Also missing are batsmen Tino Mawoyo (groin) and Regis Chakabva (finger), leaving veterans Hamilton Masakadza and Brendan Taylor with a large burden, while Kyle Jarvis will lead the pace attack.

Key MenFor Bangladesh, a number of players could make an impact, from Shakib to Mohammad Ashraful to skipper Mushfiqur Rahim, but the emergence of spinner Sohag Gazi in recent months has proven a delight. He was a star against the Windies, and the Zim batsmen will have a tough time against him, even on a flat wicket.

For the hosts, they will be looking to veteran batsman Hamilton Masakadza, who has a decent average of 41 here, and scored a century the last time he faced the Tigers at this venue.

Last Five Head-To-Head Results2011, only Test: Zimbabwe won by 130 runs in Harare2005, second Test: Match drawn in Dhaka2005, first Test: Bangladesh won by 226 runs in Chittagong2004, second Test: Match drawn in Bulawayo2004, first Test: Zimbabwe won by 183 runs in Harare

PredictionOnline betting firm Sky Bet have Zimbabwe at 11/4 and Bangladesh at 4/5 in the odds to win the first Test. Visit Sky Bet for the latest cricket betting.

More cricket bets here.

SquadsBangladesh: Mushfiqur Rahim, Tamim Iqbal, Jahurul Islam, Mohammad Ashraful, Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Mominul Haque, Nasir Hossain, Sohag Gazi, Rubel Hossain, Shahadat Hossain, Shahriar Nafees, Enamul Haque, Robiul Islam, Sajidul Islam.

Zimbabwe: Vusi Sibanda, Brendan Taylor, Hamilton Masakadza, Sean Williams, Raymond Price, Prosper Utseya, Tendai Chatara, Kyle Jarvis, Elton Chigumbura, Graem Cremer, Timycen Maruma, Sikandar Raza Butt, Tinotenda Mutombodzi, Shingirai Masakadza, Brian Vitori, Malcolm Waller, Natsai Mushangwe

Dates: 17-21 AprilMorning session: 10:00-12:00 (08:00-10:00 GMT)Afternoon session: 12:40-14:40 (10:40-12:40 GMT)Evening session: 15:00-17:00 (13:00-15:00 GMT)On-field umpires: Tony Hill and Ranmore Billy BowdenThird umpire: ZC appointmentMatch referee: Chris Broad

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