Old foes look to fine-tune ahead of World T20
January 15, 2016
Start time 1500 local (0900 GMT)
Experimentation is the buzzword around the second Bangladesh-Zimbabwe T20 series in the 2015-16 season. Both teams are looking ahead to the World T20 in March, and with the least exposure in this format among all Test-playing nations, it is hardly a surprise that they are trying to cram in as many T20s as possible before the major event.
Zimbabwe have a 16-man squad to choose from, which includes the return of Vusi Sibanda, Sean Williams and Brian Vitori, who in 2011 troubled Bangladesh at home, picking up a matchwinning first-innings four-for in the only Test and topping the wicket charts in the ODI series. The visitors will want to bounce back after their recent series losses, in both ODIs and T20s, to Afghanistan in the UAE. Coach Dav Whatmore said it was a closer contest than the result suggested but Zimbabwe would still be concerned by their current form.
Their bowling looks thinner than usual, especially in the absence of Tinashe Panyangara, relying on the legspinner Graeme Cremer for much of their threat and control. Luke Jongwe, Neville Madziva and Vitori are the pace bowlers who will have to back Cremer.
Bangladesh have Shakib Al Hasan and Soumya Sarkar back in their squad, with three newcomers also given a chance to show their worth in the first two T20s. Al-Amin Hossain, Mashrafe Mortaza and Mustafizur Rahman are the first-choice pace options while Shakib and Arafat Sunny will be the main spin threats.
What will be interesting to see is the way Bangladesh's batting order lines up, with Mahmudullah likely to bat at No 3, which means Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib can set up a final flourish for Sabbir Rahman or either of the two newcomers Shuvagata Hom and Nurul Hasan, both reputed to be fast starters.
Bangladesh: LWLLW (last five matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Shakib Al Hasan missed out on the two T20s last November so there will some interest in seeing him return to the format after quite a while.
Hamilton Masakadza made a half-century in Zimbabwe's last game, and a lot will depend on him to give his side a good start. Bangladesh are also one of his favorite opponents. He has only played three T20Is against them, but has made more than 1000 runs against them in ODIs and averages 49.60 against them in Tests, with three hundreds.
Shakib Al Hasan and Soumya Sarkar are automatic choices according to the coach Chandika Hathurusingha but Bangladesh will look to give the younger players an opportunity as well. So two out of Shuvagata Hom, Nurul Hasan and Abu Hider could be playing.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Mahmudullah, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim, 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Sabbir Rahman, 7 Nurul Hasan (wk), 8 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 9 Arafat Sunny, 10 Mustafizur Rahman, 11 Al-Amin Hossain
There will be one enforced change in Zimbabwe's line-up, with Donald Tiripano not included in this squad. Sean Williams will be an automatic choice but Vusi Sibanda and Brian Vitori may have to wait their turn.
Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Chamu Chibhabha, 2 Hamilton Masakadza, 3 Richmond Mutumbami (wk), 4 Sean Williams, 5 Malcolm Waller, 6 Sikandar Raza, 7 Elton Chigumbura (capt), 8 Luke Jongwe, 9 Graeme Cremer, 10 Tendai Chisoro, 11 Neville Madziva
Pitch and conditions
The surface has the feel of a typical Khulna pitch and with shorter boundaries, the team batting first should be able to score 150-160. Dew will be a factor, possibly from around 4.30pm, so the team batting second will have some advantage.
Stats and trivia
- Bangladesh and Zimbabwe played their first-ever T20 international at the Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium in Khulna, in 2006.
- Bangladesh are currently 3-2 ahead in the five T20s between the two sides.
- This is the first time two Full Member sides are playing a T20 series that has more than three matches.
"We will look into various combinations but whether we get a result out of it is a different issue. We feel that this is the time for trying such things."
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza
"We have to play our own game and polish where we went wrong in the past and hopefully have a good game."
Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84