Zimbabwe eye rare series win
Match factsJanuary 21, 2008
Start time 9.00am (0300 GMT)
Big PictureWill Mirpur produce another nail-biter? The low-scoring contests have been thrilling, but the letdown for the crowds has been the fact that the home team has failed to convert strong positions into wins. Bangladesh had the opposition down to 6 for 5 and 44 for 6, but still failed to defend totals of 152 and 124 against Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. While the first defeat robbed them of a chance of winning a tournament, the second left them facing the prospect of an embarrassing series loss to Zimbabwe, a team ranked below them in the ICC ODI rankings.
At the start of the tour, Zimbabwe captain Prosper Utseya had outlined two goals: reaching the final of the tri-series and beating Bangladesh in the subsequent three-match contest. The first goal seemed accomplished when they upset the hosts, but an inspired effort from Shakib Al Hasan kept them out of the final. They are on the verge of the second, and Utseya would want his team to step up and complete the task. His side stretched Sri Lanka at home last year - although a scoreline of 5-0 does not suggest that - and a series win here would indicate they are perhaps ready for more frequent contests against Test-playing nations. Also, a series loss will be a big dent in confidence for Bangladesh, with critics already saying they don't deserve to be playing Test cricket.
If they win tomorrow, Zimbabwe would clinch their first series victory in over two years - the last was against Bangladesh at home in July 2006.
Form guide (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
Watch out forThe others bowlers may have come up with the headline-grabbing performances, but Mashrafe Mortaza has been the steady bowler for his team, chipping in with tidy economical displays when not among the wickets. His three top-order strikes set the way for the upset over Sri Lanka, and a similar showing could be the early punch needed to floor Zimbabwe.
Like Bangladesh, the batting will be the worry for Zimbabwe as well. Tatendu Taibu has been unable to come up with substantial scores in recent games. He has failed to go past 40 in his last nine innings since his 74 against Ireland in Nairobi, and a match-winning score seems due from one of Zimbabwe's premier batsmen.
TeamsWith opener Junaid Siddque having a best of 3 in his last four innings, Bangladesh might consider replacing him with Mehrab Hossain jnr, who has shown some application in Tests. Another worry for captain Mohammad Ashraful is the bowling towards the end of the innings - Bangladesh have been found wanting in the final few overs more than once. Rubel Hossain leaked vital runs against Muttiah Muralitharan, and Bangladesh did not manage to wrap up the tail in the previous game against Zimbabwe.
Bangladesh (probable) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Junaid Siddique/ Mehrab Hossain jnr, 3 Mohammad Ashraful (capt), 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Raqibul Hasan, 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Naeem Islam, 9 Mashrafe Mortaza, 10 Nazmul Hossain, 11 Rubel Hossain.
Zimbabwe's bowlers have performed well, and it's unlikely they will tweak a winning combination.
Zimbabwe (probable) 1 Vusi Sibanda, 2 Hamilton Masakadza, 3 Tatenda Taibu (wk), 4 Stuart Matsikenyeri, 5 Sean Williams, 6 Elton Chigumbura, 7 Keith Dabengwa, 8 Prosper Utseya (capt), 9 Ray Price, 10 Tawanda Mupariwa, 11 Ed Rainsford.
ConditionsMohammad Ashraful''s decision to bat first in the last game raised eyebrows, with the conditions in Mirpur having generally favoured the fast bowlers in the morning. Ashraful misread the conditions, and the batsmen struggled yet again. Perhaps hosting a Test and five ODIs in the past 20-odd days has not left much time for preparation for the ground staff at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.
Stats and Trivia
- Ray Price's all-round brilliance - 4 for 22 and an unbeaten 23 - sealed the game for Zimbabwe the last time around. They were his career-best bowling and batting figures.
- Shakib Al Hasan has been the star allrounder for Bangladesh in the past year. His 3 for 11 off ten overs - a career-best effort - against Zimbabwe followed up a miserly 2 for 22 against Sri Lanka.
- The opening batsmen have had a torrid time in Mirpur this year. In ten innings, ten opening stands add up to a measly 118 runs, with a best of 51 and three no scores. The top three batsmen average 12.26.
Quotes"I think we are a more disciplined side and if we continue to be like that then we should win the series."
Zimbabwe captain Prosper Utseya hopes to keep up the good work.
"We just have to get a decent score on the board. That is the only area where we are struggling."
Mohammad Ashraful highlights the problem area for Bangladesh.