Bangladesh aim to sustain dominance
Match factsTuesday, October 27
Start time 14.30 local (07.30 GMT)
Big PictureThe third bilateral series between the two teams this year in 2009 illustrates just how the game is suffering from overkill, with ODIs being the preferred format. That won't matter much to Bangladesh - with three series wins on the trot, they are ready for five more ODIs at home to Zimbabwe - whom they have beaten in six of their nine ODIs this year.
Though that makes poor reading for the visitors, the recent return of former players to key coaching and administrative roles, a restructured domestic format and the prospect of increased international commitments - they have an ODI series against South Africa next month - bodes well. Heath Streak has joined the support staff and Alistair Campbell has come out of the cold and has been appointed chairman of selectors. Their ultimate goal is to get Zimbabwe playing Tests again, and continued success in ODIs is certainly a step in the right direction.
The signs were evident in their 4-1 walloping of Kenya, but it will need a bigger step-up when they take on opposition against whom they have won just four of their previous 20 matches. Captain Prosper Utseya will look to avoid a repeat of the last tour when they got off to a winning start but ended up on the losing side. He hopes for an improved showing this time around, not just from the batsmen who will bank on their experience of playing the Bangladesh spinners but also the bowlers who would have benefitted from Streak's presence.
Watch out for:
Picked in the ICC Test Team of the Year as well as being named international player of the year by Wisden Cricketer Magazine, Shakib Al Hasan, has been one of the consistent performers for Bangladesh in ODIs as well. He was handed the captaincy in the West Indies after Mashrafe Mortaza's injury and, in the latter's prolonged absence, has retained it for this series. It has not appeared to be a burden for him - his bowling has remained impressive and he seems to have improved his batting.
The Bangladesh spinners proved to be the difference in the series in August and they would be even more of a threat in home conditions. Zimbabwe's batsmen will need all the experience they have picked up in recent encounters to tackle the slow bowlers led by Abdur Razzaq, who returns after a hamstring injury.
Brendan Taylor, who missed out during Zimbabwe's last trip to Bangladesh, has been in top form for Zimbabwe. Having finished the third-highest scorer in the series in Zimbabwe with 193 from five matches at 38.60, he announced himself in Bangladesh with a superb 139 in the last tour game against the Bangladesh Cricket Board XI.
All eyes will be on former captain Tatenda Taibu, who will look to put behind him all the off-the-field troubles that kept him away from international cricket albeit for a brief period. Taibu and Zimbabwe have another opportunity, and what better way to turn the corner than being up against a familiar foe.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Junaid Siddique, 3 Mohammad Ashraful, 4 Raqibul Hasan, 5 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 6 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Naeem Islam, 9 Rubel Hossain, 10 Abdur Razzak 11 Nazmul Hossain/Mahbubul Alam.
Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Hamilton Masakadza, 2 Chamu Chibhabha, 3 Forster Mutizwa, 4 Brendan Taylor, 5 Tatenda Taibu (wk), 6 Stuart Matsikenyeri, 7 Charles Coventry, 8 Graeme Cremer, 9 Prosper Utseya (capt), 10 Ray Price, 11 Kyle Jarvis
- The highest-ever individual ODI score was equalled when these two teams met in August. Charles Coventry carted the Bangladesh bowlers to all parts of the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo on his way to an unbeaten 194. Surprisingly, he still ended on the losing side as another statistic played its part: his knock was the sixth-highest in the terms of percentage of the team total in a completed innings.
- Tamim Iqbal has been Bangladesh's highest run-getter since January 2008 with 974 at 27.83, but has struggled in nine innings this year.
- Shakib Al Hasan is 96 adrift of reaching the 2000-run mark in ODIs.
- With an average of 31.50 against Bangladesh, Brendan Taylor goes into this series statistically as Zimbabwe's best batsman.
"Our strengths are almost equal. A mistake could prove very costly."
Shakib Al Hasan believes Bangladesh cannot afford to let their guard slip
"Playing any home team is tough and we will probably start as the underdogs."
Zimbabwe captain Proper Utseya's happy to maintain a low profile
Judhajit Basu is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo