Apr 222013
 

Groundstaff work on the pitch for the second Test, Harare, April 22, 2013Groundstaff grab a chance to work on the pitch between showers © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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Series/Tournaments: Bangladesh tour of Zimbabwe
Teams: Bangladesh | Zimbabwe

Others may have taken it as a rest day but neither Zimbabwe nor Bangladesh opted to put their feet up on what would have been the fifth day of the first Test with both camps were back at work on Sunday.

Grant Flower held a net with his players who had not featured in the Test while Bangladesh were engaged in a full session after they crushing 335-run defeat. But they were not the only ones getting ready. The Harare Sports Club groundstaff were also out in full force, grateful for the extra day to prepare for back-to-back Tests.

This is only the 13th occasion in Test history that the same venue is being used for two Tests in the space of eight days but it is the first time in 11 years that is happening. Sharjah was the most recent case, where Australia and Pakistan played in 2002 and Harare has hosted consecutive Tests once before, in 1999 against Sri Lanka.

While it is an advantage to the teams, who have already played once at the ground and will have had some time to get used to it, it is a scramble for the organisers; this time even more so because drizzle is dominating the build-up.

There was rain in the city on Sunday afternoon and early on Monday morning. After a few hours of sunshine, it came down again and more rain is forecast for both Tuesday and Wednesday, with clear skies for the start of the second Test on Thursday.

ESPNcricinfo understands that Zimbabwe would like to leave a similar amount of grass on the surface as was present for the first Test. Brendan Taylor was pleased with both the assistance it offered to the home quicks and that it “took the Bangladesh spinners, which we know is their strength, out of the equation.”

The reverse applied too. Bangladesh’s seamers, Robiul Islam in particular, also enjoyed the conditions and Zimbabwe’s top-order battled. In the hope they will not face a similar early wobble, Zimbabwe have to be careful not to leave too much grass on it.

Their efforts in getting the balance right could all be washed away if wet weather persists for long enough to cause the surface to be underprepared. Batting could be even more difficult, which will not come as good news to either side.

An obvious question would be why the second Test is not played at Zimbabwe’s other main venue, Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo? Conspiracy theorists have brought up the history – Zimbabwe have only won one Test there compared to seven in Harare while Bangladesh have never won here and drew once in Bulawayo – and the idea that the hosts may not want to play on a slower surface that may take some turn, but the real reason lies in the finances.

The costs of travel for both teams to Bulawayo for a Test, back up to Harare for ODIs, and then to Bulawayo again for more limited-overs games was steeper than simply staying in one centre for an extended period. Money has also limited the number of television cameras at the matches.

The broadcasters, SuperSport, are using the same number they would use to cover a domestic game in South Africa, nine, which is significantly fewer than the 24 they use for an international, and there is no DRS.

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