Fight for finals starts now
January 10, 2008
Start time 09.00am (03.00 GMT)
Big PictureAfter a month of pulsating Tests and high-scoring chases, it's back to the one-day action, with Bangladesh taking on Zimbabwe in the opening game of the short tri-series in Mirpur. Each team plays the other once, meaning that an early defeat only increases the pressure of qualifying. Sri Lanka are the powerhouse team and are firm favourites to take the title so it's more a question of who they will meet in the final.
Zimbabwe lost 11 of their 12 ODIs in 2008 and are coming off a 5-0 defeat against the Sri Lankans at home recently. However, that series wasn't without its tense moments and Zimbabwe made the opposition sweat in three games, very nearly pulling off an upset or two on bowler-friendly wickets. Bangladesh have held the upper hand against their opponents in the last couple of years but the head-to-head record still stands in favour of Zimbabwe at 18-15.
Zimbabwe opened their tour with a 195-run win in a low-scoring game against Bangladesh Cricket Board Academy in Bogra. Prosper Utseya, the Zimbabwe captain, was satisfied with his team's preparations. "The guys are more experienced than they were four years ago and playing against Sri Lanka and the best spinners in the world has given us a lot of confidence," Utseya said.
Bangladesh too are coming off a series defeat, losing 2-0 in the ODIs in South Africa. They pushed New Zealand hard at home before that tour, beating them at this venue in October, which gives the hosts the edge on Saturday. They still have top-order worries and their coach Jamie Siddons was hopeful of a turnaround.
"We have our more experienced players at the top four and I'm confident they would deliver," Siddons said. "The Test team is a lot different than the one-day side and most of the boys haven't played that many Test matches."
Form guide (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)Zimbabwe LLLLL
Watch out forMushfiqur Rahim displayed fine temperament in the Tests and impressed with his batting against Muttiah Muralitharan. Despite his success at the Test level, he's yet to make a mark in ODIs with the bat, averaging just 19.10 in 40 games. If given a promotion in the batting order, his record could improve.
Tawanda Mupariwa, the right-arm medium pacer, recently became the fastest Zimbabwe bowler to 50 ODI wickets, getting there in 28 games and beating Eddo Brandes' earlier record by nine games. He was the leading wicket-taker in the ODIs against Sri Lanka with ten wickets and took 5 for 39 in the Bogra tour match.
Bangladesh have announced their 12, leaving out the uncapped seamer Rubel Hossain and Enamul Haque jnr, the left-arm spinner. Mahmudullah, the middle-order batsman, is also likely to sit out. Shahadat Hossain's omission from the squad gives an opportunity for Nazmul Hossain to make a mark.
Bangladesh (probable) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Junaid Siddique, 3 Mohammad Ashraful (capt), 4 Raqibul Hasan, 5 Mehrab Hossain jnr, 6 Shakib Al Hasan, 7 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk) ,8 Naeem Islam, 9 Mashrafe Mortaza, 10 Mahbubul Alam, 11 Nazmul Hossain
Zimbabwe didn't announce their 12 on the eve of the match.
Zimbabwe (probable) 1 Vusi Sibanda, 2 Hamilton Masakadza, 3 Tatenda Taibu, 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
Pitch and conditions
The grass on the pitch has been shaved off and Utseya expects the ball to skid on to the bat. The first Test against Sri Lanka was affected by early morning dew, leading to delayed starts. The players will hope the conditions are friendlier, considering the scheduled start for the ODIs is half an hour earlier than that of the Tests.
Stats and Trivia
- The recent head-to-head record shows Bangladesh's domination
against their opponents, winning ten out of the last 11 games.
Quotes"The three-day match gave our batsmen the opportunity to spend some time at the wicket and get used to the conditions. I am happy with the preparations as the batsmen and the bowlers performed and it was especially good for some of the new players..
Prosper Utseya on the tour opener in Bogra
"I think there's a lot of concentration problem in Test cricket and our players don't do it that well. We need to get better at that. For one-day cricket they should be switched on because it's only 50 overs and should expect the ball to come to them all the time."
Jamie Siddons expects the catching to improve after a disappointing showing in the Chittagong Test against Sri Lanka.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo