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November 30, 2010
Match FactsWednesday, December 1
The Big Picture
With the World Cup round the corner, the cricketing world has its collective eye trained on Bangladesh. By thumping New Zealand 4-0 at home, they have announced themselves as a real threat to the teams in Group B, who will all have to find a way past their spinners in slow and low conditions. The upcoming series against Zimbabwe may not say much about Bangladesh's development as a cricketing force; they are overwhelming favourites to put it past a side they have bossed in recent times. It will, however, offer some indication about what to expect from the Mirpur and Chittagong tracks that will host the five matches, and all of Bangladesh's World Cup league fixtures and quarterfinal, if they make it that far.
Zimbabwe's supporters will look forward to a better show than New Zealand's. As West Indies and India found out on a couple of occasions earlier in the year, Zimbabwe's spinners are capable of pulling off the strangling act. Ray Price's return after missing the South Africa series, and the presence of Graeme Cremer and Prosper Utseya gives them a spin attack that can compete on level terms with the hosts. Add the inventiveness of Brendan Taylor and co. at the top, and Zimbabwe will entertain thoughts of stretching the hosts in the next couple of weeks.
Mashrafe Mortaza and Tamim Iqbal return to the fold, making Bangladesh even more formidable, on paper, than they were against New Zealand. It's not often that they go into a series as favourites, and having their feet in the ground will be the biggest challenge for Shakib Al Hasan's side.
Form guide(most recent first)
Watch out for...
Tamim Iqbal will be itching to hit the ground running after missing in action with an injury to his left wrist and the subsequent surgery. Being a batsman who scores heavily square of the wicket on both sides, Tamim's method will require the wrist to be in good shape. Prior to the injury he was in sublime form across formats, muscling his way to the Wisden Cricketer's Test Player of the Year award. Bangladesh will hope that he has retained his touch through the break.
In his last 11 innings, Brendan Taylor has slammed 578 runs including two unbeaten tons and three other scores in excess of 70. His aggressive style, aided by Chamu Chibhabha and Tatenda Taibu, will seek to dictate terms before Shakib plays the spin card. Can Bangladesh's seamers nip Taylor's attack in the bud? If they don't, his tussle with the spinners could make for some interesting viewing.
Pitch and conditions
Expect the Shere Bangla Stadium to play true to character. In day matches, scores of around 220 have in general proved to be competitive, so the key for the batsmen will be to avoid over-reaching. The early morning start in comparatively cooler climes could interest the likes of Mortaza, but the course of the match could be decided by the slow turn on offer as the game wears on.
Tamim returns to join Imrul Kayes at the top of the order for the hosts. Mohammad Ashraful is back in the mix; will he find a place in the starting XI?
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes, 3 Junaid Siddique, 4 Raqibul Hasan / Mohammad Ashraful, 5 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 6 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Abdur Razzak, 9 Mashrafe Mortaza, 10 Rubel Hossain, 11 Suhrawadi Shuvo
Seamers Chris Mpofu and Keegan Meth impressed in Zimbabwe's defeat in the tour game against Bangladesh Cricket Board XI. A lot will be expected from them against the home team's powerful top five before the spinners can come into play.
Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Hamilton Masakadza, 2 Brendan Taylor, 3 Chamu Chibhabha, 4 Tatenda Taibu (wk), 5 Elton Chigumbura (capt), 6 Craig Ervine, 7 Keegan Meth, 8 Prosper Utseya, 9 Graeme Cremer, 10 Raymond Price, 11 Chris Mpofu
Stats and trivia
"I think it'll be a bit different series than the one against the Kiwis as we have had the experience to play in Bangladesh quite often."
Hamilton Masakadza is confident that his side can compete well in this series
"We are at home; it is our wicket, our conditions and our crowd. They should feel a little scared."
Julien Fountain, Bangladesh's fielding coach, shoots down Masakadza's optimism
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