Zimbabwe look to sustain momentum
August 14, Harare
Start time 0930 (0730 GMT 1300 IST)
The Big Picture
Zimbabwe's star is rising with every move they make in this series and they will not want to do anything to disrupt its path. Near-flawless performances with the ball, and equally accomplished showings with the bat - in the one-off Test and the first ODI against Bangladesh - have helped them sell their story of success.
If there is a fault, it's that they have lost wickets in clusters, both in the Test match and with Rubel Hossain's late strikes in the first ODI. Their middle order has sometimes struggled to string partnerships together. It hasn't had any impact on their results yet, but there is always a danger that it could, and they will want to ensure they can form partnerships in that area as they do at the top.
The bowling has asked questions of the opposition on almost every occasion, with the seamers outshining the spinners. Ray Price and Prosper Utseya may want to challenge their quicks with a wicket-taking performance of their own, especially after they, together with Elton Chigumbura, were guilty of allowing runs to flow freely in the first match.
Bangladesh have failed to adjust to conditions and some of the players have even blamed the environment for their poor showing. Their batsmen have lacked application, allowed themselves to be bullied by the bowlers and, at times, displayed a range of shots that would not be out of place in a club match. The openers - Tamim Iqbal in particular - are due a solid stint at the crease.
There is an over reliance on Shakib Al Hasan to be the major contributor, with bat and ball, and while he has done a fine job, he cannot be expected to do it alone. Mushfiqur Rahim offered him support in the first one-dayer but the rest of the batting line-up have to start contributing.
Consistency is also required from their bowlers, who have managed to get some good deliveries in but have not done so with regularity. Hossain showed promising signs in his second spell in the first one-dayer and Bangladesh will have to learn to not just depend on their left-arm spinners for breakthroughs but trust some of the other bowlers to do the job as well.
Form guide (most recent first)
In the spotlight
He is the man with the Midas touch and all eyes will be on Brian Vitori to see if he will ever put a foot wrong. After a five-wicket haul on ODI debut, to go with the five wickets he claimed in the one-off Test, Vitori is enjoying a magical introduction to international cricket. He has managed to achieve swing, even on a pitch that looks like it has nothing in it for bowlers, and has bowled a tricky length, using the short ball well. In the first ODI, he didn't give the Bangladesh batsmen any width, and tight lines meant he was well rewarded.
As an experienced player in Bangladesh's middle order Mahmudullah will need to step up and show his worth after a quiet outing in the Test and the first ODI. There are expectations from him, when he comes in to bat, especially if he is partnering Shakib or Mohammad Ashraful but he has not managed to go past 13 so far. He is not to blame for his under-utilisation with the ball, and has looked competent every time it has been handed to him, but in order to start playing his part, he will have to do a little more in the rest of the series.
There's no need for Zimbabwe to change anything after their commanding performance in the first ODI and they are likely to go in with the same XI. Chigumbura is the one man who may be nervous of keeping his place, in case the selectors decide to give allrounder Keegan Meth a chance.
Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Brendan Taylor (capt), 2 Vusi Sibanda, 3 Hamilton Masakadza, 4 Tatenda Taibu (wk), 5 Craig Ervine, 6 Forster Mutizwa, 7 Elton Chigumbura/Keegan Meth, 8 Prosper Utseya, 9 Ray Price, 10 Brian Vitori, 11 Chris Mpofu.
Bangladesh need to find an alternative to left-arm spin and Abdur Razzak may pay the price for an indifferent performance, giving 19-year-old offspinner Nasir Hossain a chance to make his international debut. Although their batting remains the major concern, it's unlikely that Tamim will get the axe, with Stuart Law reckoning a big knock is just around the corner for him. Junaid Siddique could come in for Imrul Kayes.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes/Junaid Siddique, 3 Shahriar Nafees, 4 Mohammad Ashraful, 5 Mahmudullah, 6 Shakib Al Hasan, 7 Mushfiqur Rahim, 8 Suhrawadi Shuvo, 9 Nasir Hossain, 10 Shafiul Islam, 11 Rubel Hossain.
Pitch and conditions
Harare can be expected to provide consistent conditions throughout the series, which are traditionally good for batting. With temperatures rising as spring approaches, the sun bakes and flattens the pitch. There will be something in it for the bowlers, but only if they are willing to work hard and hit the deck. Spinners will get some assistance and there is also a hint of reverse-swing but the ground remains true to its reputation of favouring the chasing team.
Stats and trivia
- Bangladesh are almost twice as likely to beat Zimbabwe as they are to record a victory over any other team, according to their historical win/loss ratio. They have won 53.8% of games against Zimbabwe, while managing 27% against the other teams.
- Rubel Hossain has taken three four-wicket hauls in his 29-match career. Two of them have been at home in Dhaka and the third was in the first ODI in Harare.
- Hamilton Masakadza has played against Bangladesh 35 times in ten years and has a lower average against them, of 22.47, than his overall average of 27.21. His bowling average is substantially better at 27.08, compared to 33.18 overall.
We have some things to work on in our training session. We want to face a lot more spin in the nets and get the ball to reverse a little.
Brendan Taylor talks about the fine tuning he would like his team to address
We should have applied ourselves better in the first match. Now our top-order batsmen have to put on a show in the next one.
Shakib al Hasan laments Bangladesh's batting woes.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent