Zimbabwe hope to tackle spin threat
Match FactsMonday, December 6
Start time 9:00 (03:00 GMT)
The Big Picture
Bangladesh rectified their errors after the reversal in the first match to put up a clinical batting performance to complement the spinners and level the series. Watching their unit in the second game suggested they were putting in an extra effort to please Shakib Al Hasan after he had ripped into them following the shoddy show in the series opener. With the momentum back in their favour, the home side will fancy their chances of taking the lead in the third straight fixture in Mirpur.
The opening exchanges in the first two matches followed strikingly similar scripts: Bangladesh fielded under foggy skies in both games, but their seamers wasted the conditions to gift Zimbabwe good starts. The spinners then checked the visitors' progress and restricted them to gettable targets, which Bangladesh failed to reach in the first game and cantered to in the next. The thin seam resources in either side could preclude the morning juice from being capitalised on, and spin will continue to be the decisive factor. Can Zimbabwe come up with a new plan to counter the rampant spin attack led by Abdur Razzak? Zimbabwe rely on spin almost as heavily as their opponents, and Ray Price will fancy his chances of pulling off a slow left-arm choke on the master practitioners of the art. The visitors will, however, hope for a big lift from their batsmen, especially the top order that has thrown away strong starts twice.
(most recent first)
Watch out for …
The time has come for Elton Chigumbura to deliver. Twice in two games, he has been guilty of exacerbating batting collapses by attempting careless shots against the spinners early in his innings. A batting strike-rate of 84.06 suggests that Chigumbura is capable of increasing the tempo if he is at the crease for a considerable period of time, so the challenge for the Zimbabwe captain will be to play within himself until he can get accustomed to the conditions.
Don't bet against another strong performance from Abdur Razzak. Nine wickets in two matches, including a hat-trick, make him Zimbabwe's biggest worry for the rest of the series. Will they look to hit him out of his stifling rhythm? Brendan Taylor is one of their most aggressive players against spin and, having got off to starts in both matches so far, he will look to kick on and combat Razzak and co. this time around.
The third match was originally scheduled to be held under lights, but was shifted back to a morning start once it was found that the stadium's new floodlights were not yet fully functional. So far in the series, the Mirpur pitch has played true to it's day-game history, slowing down and affording spinners assistance right through. There will be more of the same in the third match, and, if Zimbabwe bowl first, Chris Mpofu will hope to hit better lines than Bangladesh's seamers did in the previous two matches.
Shakib got the changes he wanted after the first match, and the men who came in - Raqibul Hasan and Naeem Islam - played key roles in the turnaround. It is unlikely that Bangladesh will break the winning combination, though they will want Mashrafe Mortaza and Shafiul Islam to get into the game with the new ball.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes, 3 Junaid Siddique, 4 Raqibul Hasan, 5 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 6 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 7 Naeem Islam, 8 Suhrawadi Shuvo, 9 Mashrafe Mortaza, 10 Abdur Razzak, 11 Shafiul Islam
Keegan Meth has been unimpressive and may struggle to keep his spot for the third match. Shingirai Masakadza will be a like-for-like replacement but, given their batting woes, Zimbabwe could consider bringing Hamilton Masakadza back into the top order.
Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Brendan Taylor, 2 Chamu Chibhabha, 3 Regis Chakabva, 4. Keith Dabengwa, 5 Tatenda Taibu (wk), 6 Elton Chigumbura (capt), 7 Craig Ervine, 8 Shingirai Masakadza / Keegan Meth, 9 Prosper Utseya, 10 Raymond Price, 11 Chris Mpofu
Stats and Trivia
- Abdur Razzak's hat-trick in the second match was the 27th in one-day history and Bangladesh's second. Shahadat Hossain got the previous one, also against Zimbabwe, and Prosper Utseya was a part of the hat-trick on both occasions.
- Shakib Al Hasan is currently Bangladesh's third-highest wicket-taker in ODIs. Razzak leads the way with 158 wickets, while Mortaza has 142
"I need some time to get my rhythm back and I believe things will get better only if I keep playing matches"
Mashrafe Mortaza asks for patience as he struggles for rhythm
"The batsmen applied themselves, the bowlers were good today and everyone chipped in, the fielding has also improved, we are playing good cricket, we are confident now."
Shakib Al Hasan is no more the grumpy man he was after the first match
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo