lalchand rajput
Lalchand Rajput (AFP Photo)

Zimbabwe will have to bat out the entire five day to save the second Test against Bangladesh on Thursday. On a fifty day pitch at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, which has historically favoured the spinners, the tourists will have to bat out of their skin to ensure a first-away series win in 17 years.

Chasing 443, Zimbabwe finished the fourth day on 76/2, losing both their openers. Coach Lalchand Rajput has said that his batsmen will have to back their instincts and play the ball on merit.

He reckons the first hour of play will decide which way the Test will head to. “We don’t think about the pitch now,” Rajput was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo on Wednesday. “You just have to go to a mindset that you play on the merit of the ball. The pitch is not in our control, it’s uncontrollable, so back your defence, back your instinct, play the ball on merit. If the ball pops up or something, it’s unfortunate, but at least you’re there to try and defend.”

He added, “Have small sessions, one hour and then the lunch break. And then concentrate for another hour. Small sessions will do a world of good for us. The first hour will be very key. If Brendan [Taylor] and Sean Williams can bat through that, then the pressure will be on the fielding side. And if we play the first session, then it becomes easier for the next two.”

Rajput doesn’t have to dig deep in cricket history for examples of teams having survived similar circumstance. Last month in UAE, Australia found themselves playing for survival in the first Test against Pakistan and thanks to a gritty century from Usman Khawaja and Tim Paine’s stubborn innings, managed to secure a famous draw.

“Cricket is a game of uncertainties. You never know what will happen. It just takes one or two big partnerships. It’s happened. If you look at a game like Pakistan-Australia, they really saved a Test match. Khawaja batted the whole day. So we hope somebody stands up and bats a session, because it’s just a question of three sessions. If you can bat one session, then slowly we can [do it],” Rajput said.

He wants his batsmen to remove the prospect of a series win from their minds to avoid any pressure. “I’ve got to be positive and make them feel that it’s just another game. Don’t give that notion that we’re going to win the series if we draw, no, because that adds additional pressure on them. It’s just another game, you’ve got to go and show your skill level and try to bat the day. You’ve got to keep it very simple, and not think too much. If you keep it simple, then you succeed,” he said.