Bangladesh aim to reassert dominance
August 12, Harare Sports Club
Start time 0930 (0730GMT 1300IST)
The Big Picture
After the heroics in Harare on Monday, when Zimbabwe won an intriguing Test match against Bangladesh, cricket returns to the format the two teams play most often. An ODI series between them is not a rare thing and the players know each other so well that most of them see each other as colleagues, not opponents. In the last two years, they have played three five-match series against each other, with Bangladesh winning all three; two at home, one away.
Their dominance over Zimbabwe may suggest that Bangladesh are firm favourites on the eve this series, but the tables have turned a little. Zimbabwe are the darlings of the cricket world after winning their comeback Test and will want to maintain their status with a convincing performance in the ODIs. Their most recent showing in the fifty-over format, at the 2011 World Cup, was disappointing. They registered just one win over minnows Kenya and their five defeats meant that any outside chance they had of making it to the quarter-finals quickly disappeared.
They haven't played an ODI since March, and with all the focus on their Test return, they will have to adjust quickly to this version of the game. With exciting players like batsman Forster Mutizwa and seamers Brian Vitori and Tendai Chatara coming through the franchise system, Zimbabwe have a lot of talent to show off and there would be no better time to do so than now, at the start of a summer that will see them also host Pakistan and New Zealand.
Bangladesh were widely expected to progress to the quarter-finals of the World Cup, but defeats to India, West Indies and South Africa undid the hard work they put into their wins over Ireland, England and Netherlands. In the only series they have played in the aftermath of their World Cup exit, Australia made a mockery of them, showing that the gap between Bangladesh and some of the other teams still exists.
With talk of disharmony in the camp, general regression and Shakib Al Hasan's captaincy under scrutiny, Bangladesh will be looking to let their on-field efforts answer the questions that are swirling around them. Stuart Law's tenure as coach didn't start in the best way but this is also an opportunity for him to stamp his style on the team.
Form guide (most recent first)
In the spotlight
A year ago, Chris Mpofu was tossed about like a ragdoll by South Africa's batsmen but instead of demoralising him, his experience served as the watershed moment of his career. He realised that to compete at international level he would have to work on various aspects of his game, particularly accuracy. He has improved massively since then but has only had a few matches to display his progress. With Vitori and Kyle Jarvis stealing the show in the Test, Mpofu's role did not attract much attention, but, as the senior seamer he will have a big role to play both as a role model and a containing bowler.
After Tamim Iqbal's inflammatory comments in the Test match, in which he described Brian Vitori and Kyle Jarvis as "ordinary" and "nothing special," the pressure is on the feisty Bangladesh batsman to live up to his big talk. He didn't have to face the Zimbabwean pair after making his comments, because he had already got out to a loose shot after a rollicking start, so this will be the first opportunity for them to exact revenge. If Tamim wants his statements to stick, he will have to bat with some kind of aggression in the ODI series.
Brendan Taylor will return to the opening berth and will partner Hamilton Masakadza at the top. Forster Mutizwa, who was considered unlucky to miss out on the Test match after his performance in the warm-up, is likely to slot into the middle order. Brian Vitori is in line for an ODI debut, after his fine showing in the Test match. Prosper Utseya will be brought in to aid the spin department, meaning Keegan Meth may have to wait a little longer to make an appearance in this series.
Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Brendan Taylor (capt), 2 Hamilton Masakadza, 3 Vusi Sibanda, 4 Craig Ervine, 5 Tatenda Taibu (wk), 6 Forster Mutizwa, 7 Elton Chigumbura, 8 Prosper Utseya, 9 Ray Price, 10 Brian Vitori, 11 Chris Mpofu.
Junaid Siddique, who was not included in the one-off Test, should find his way back into the playing XI for the ODIs. Mohammad Ashraful, who showed some form in that Test, is also likely to play after missing out on the series against Australia, and Nasir Hossain, the 19-year-old offspinner, could make his debut.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes, 3 Junaid Siddique, 4 Shahriar Nafees, 5 Mohammad Ashraful, 6 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 7 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 8 Abdur Razzak, 9 Shafiul Islam, 10 Rubel Hossain, 11 Nasir Hossain
Pitch and conditions
The deck is said to be as flat as the road outside and is expected to have nothing in it for the quicks - even less than it had during the Test match, where bowling was hard work. But, as that fixture showed, with consistent lines and lengths, even a pitch that was good for batting could be used to the seamers' advantage. The bounce is expected to be consistent and with the slow nature of the track, both captains should employ a lot of spin.
Stats and trivia
- Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have played each other 31 times in the last five years, with Bangladesh winning 23 of those encounters. Overall, they have clashed 51 times, with 28 victories going the way of Bangladesh and 23 wins to Zimbabwe.
- Shahriar Nafees's batting average against Zimbabwe is 62.41, almost double his overall average of 33.34. Three of his four hundreds came against them, including his highest score of 123.
- Ray Price's best bowling figures of 4 for 22 came against Bangladesh in January 2009. His highest score with the bat, 46, was also achieved against Bangladesh in August that same year.
We are expecting them to come out fighting in the ODI series. They rely so much on spin so we expect to face 30 overs of spin.
Brendan Taylorexpects a Bangladesh backlash after their heavy defeat in the Test match
In any series, the first one-day is always very important. If we can win the first game, the momentum will be with us.
Shakib al Hasan wants Bangladesh to start positively
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent