Chance for Zimbabwe to build on positives
August 19, Queens Sports Club, Bulawayo
Start time 09.30 am (07.30 GMT)
The Big Picture
Bangladesh finally arrived in Zimbabwe, a couple of weeks later than they should have. After being outplayed in the only Test and the first two ODIs, they showed a bit of tenacity with a competitive - but not match-winning - performance in the third one-dayer. It came too late, as a devastated Shakib Al Hasan said, but it was something worth taking heart from and bodes well for the remaining two matches, which take place at a different venue.
For the first time on the tour, the cricket moves to Bulawayo. And while the series as a whole is dead - Zimbabwe are 3-0 up - the smaller contests have come to life. A tight chase, a well-paced century and a wonderful spell of death bowling brought the third match alive, and cricket lovers will hope it continues to be a close contest in Bulawayo.
Even though Bangladesh didn't win, the fact that they put on an impressive performance in the first half of Zimbabwe's innings, formed partnerships and eventually came within one shot of completing a tricky chase, was promising. Bangladesh will not want go home winless. For Zimbabwe, a whitewash will carry them to within two points of Bangladesh in the ODI rankings, and they could use the next two matches as a learning curve.
In fact, they began doing so in the previous match, when they were given a different test - being asked to bat first. The Zimbabwe bowlers were presented with a new challenge, that of defending a total, and though it seemed that the match was slipping from their hands, an accurate performance topped by Kyle Jarvis' yorkers at the end, showed they could cope. They will be keen to prove they can do so consistently.
Form guide (most recent first)
In the spotlight
After being relieved of the captaincy, Elton Chigumbura has batted with a little more purpose when he has had the opportunity. He has batted in situations where the top order has created the environment for him to lash out, and he has capitalised with his ability to hit the ball a long way. His bowling hasn't been as impressive, and he was expensive in the previous match, though he was better in the first two. His role as the fourth seamer needs some polishing. With his allrounder's spot not guaranteed, he could use the next two matches as an opportunity to make a convincing case.
Shakib Al Hasan has the difficult job of lifting a defeated team. He looked a broken man after the series was lost, but as the leader, he will have to persuade his men to give a respectable account of themselves in what has been a forgettable tour. Shakib also has his own performance as an allrounder to think about. In the third match, he was finally able to bat in a normal situation as opposed to a crisis and got out just as he had his eye in. The match situation also allowed him to bowl after the first 20 overs. If the same can continue, he can start to concentrate on steering the middle order in the latter half of the innings and employing more innovative tactics as captain.
Zimbabwe could now be open to experimentation. If they were to approach it radically, Brendan Taylor, who has failed with the bat so far, will be moved down the order and Regis Chakabva brought in to open the batting with Vusi Sibanda. That may result in one of Forster Mutizwa or Craig Ervine sitting out. Chris Mpofu may be due a rest and with conditions likely to suit spinners, Ray Price could be recalled.
Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Regis Chakabva, 2 Vusi Sibanda, 3 Hamilton Masakadza, 4 Tatenda Taibu, 5 Brendan Taylor, 6 Craig Ervine/Forster Mutizwa, 7 Elton Chigumbura, 8 Prosper Utseya, 9 Ray Price, 10 Brian Vitori, 11 Kyle Jarvis
Bangladesh's combination finally clicked and although it was harsh, their decision to drop Mohammad Ashraful and Shahriar Nafees almost paid off. It may be tempting to bring one, or even both, back but in the interests of allowing an XI that showed promise a chance to prove its worth, they could field the same line-up. Shuvagoto Hom was excellent on debut, but Nasir Hossain bowled a hodge-podge of medium pacers and offspinners and was targeted. Despite his showing, it would hardly seem fair to drop the 19-year-old just yet. Mushfiqur Rahim was reported to have a niggle after his century, but it may have been his aching heart and not his hamstring, and he should be cleared to play. Abdur Razzak may come back in on the spinner-friendly track, but it would be a tough choice dropping one among Shafiul Islam, Rubel Hossain and Nazmul Hossain.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Imrul Kayes, 3 Junaid Siddique, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim, 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Shuvagoto Hom, 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Nasir Hossain, 9 Abdur Razzak, 10 & 11 Nazmul Hossain/Shafiul Islam/Rubel Hossain
Pitch and conditions
Batsmen usually enjoy their outings in Zimbabwe and if they thought Harare was a smooth surface, Bulawayo is even better. The pitch is traditionally flat. Accurate, consistent bowling should be rewarded, but the fast bowlers will have to bend their backs to get anything out of the track. Spinners should have an easier time and it is likely that we will see a little more turn than we have so far.
Stats and trivia
- Brendan Taylor has been out for 10 or less 43 times in his 121-match career. Three of those dismissals have been in this series.
- Of the 43 completed matches at the Queens Sports Club, 25 have been won by the team that chases.
"We knew from the first two games that Bangladesh were capable of playing better than they did. And they showed it. We'd really love to have a 5-0 win."
Coach Alan Butcher says Zimbabwe are not going to loosen their grip, despite having already won the series
"I don't think we need to lift the team anymore. We fielded well in the first 20 overs - lots of hustle, noise, encouragement, some great stops. Even though the series is gone, there's pride at stake."
Bangladesh coach Stuart Law says his team have finally found their morale
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent