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The Preview by Mohammad Isam
May 7, 2013
Match factsMay 8, 2013
The decider will possibly buck the trend of the tour. Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have both been playing tentatively, neither giving too much away nor taking full advantage. Regardless of the two Twenty20s next weekend, this is the encounter that will break the current deadlock between both teams.
Zimbabwe hold the advantage, particularly after their clinical finish in the second ODI. It was their first win after six consecutive losses in the format, and the difference was evident. They recovered from an early wicket with a forceful partnership between Vusi Sibanda, one of the openers, and Sikandar Raza at No.3. After the two were dismissed, captain Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams and Malcolm Waller ensured a smooth ending, the Bangladesh bowlers not once threatening or beating their bat. It was vintage ODI cricket: two batsmen running hard, finding the odd boundary but always in command.
The only Bangladesh batsmen to offer such solidity were Shakib Al Hasan and Nasir Hossain. They looked far more comfortable knocking the ball around but met premature ends to their respective innings in the second game. If they can lengthen their stays in the third and final ODI, the Zimbabwe bowlers will have a lot of thinking to do. The visitors will also expect runs from Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Ashraful and Mushfiqur Rahim.
Mominul Haque and Mahmudullah will also be on high-alert in this game, lest they continue to have the question mark hanging over their position in the limited-overs side. But there are no such major concerns in the bowling department, which will be asked to deliver one final blow.
Taylor would also hope his bowlers stay on the straight and narrow, quite literally. They bounced back into more consistent lines and lengths after the indiscipline in the first ODI. But ultimately, this has been a series of surprises from both sides. Given how closely fought it has been, one should never expect the conventional at any juncture of this third ODI. There are going to be many tight knots, but the team with the highest mettle will win. This is going to be a nervous game of cricket.
Form guideZimbabwe: WLLLL (completed games, most recent results first)
Players to watch
Whenever a big game approaches, interest in Tamim Iqbal goes up. Although not out of form, he has not been able play a substantial knock in the two ODIs so far. He is expected to fire on such days, especially if Bangladesh bat first, because he has the technique to counter the moving ball at pace. He would only have to guard against the tendency to force the pace too early.
It is too early to say whether Sikandar Raza is going to solve Zimbabwe's top-order conundrum but the signs so far are encouraging. The Pakistan-born batsman made just 23, but was comfortable against pace. He has to conquer spin, which he will encounter a lot against Bangladesh. This upcoming match will be another test for young Raza's powers of concentration.
Though Zimbabwe have included Natsai M'shangwe in the squad to replace Michael Chinouya, they are unlikely to make any more changes with most of the components working well for captain Brendan Taylor, especially his bowlers finding rhythm.
Zimbabwe (possible): 1 Vusi Sibanda, 2 Hamilton Masakadza, 3 Sikandar Raza, 4 Brendan Taylor (c & wk), 5 Malcolm Waller, 6 Sean Williams, 7 Elton Chigumbura, 8 Prosper Utseya, 9 Shingirai Masakadza, 10 Kyle Jarvis, 11 Tendai Chatara.
Bangladesh team management are also unlikely to make changes for the crucial match.
Bangladesh (possible) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Mohammad Ashraful, 3 Mominul Haque, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (capt & wk), 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Nasir Hossain, 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Ziaur Rahman, 9 Abdur Razzak, 10 Shafiul Islam, 11 Robiul Islam.
Pitch and conditionsThere is no particular change in conditions so the toss will again be vital. Both teams will look to bowl first to make use of early swing available.
Stats and trivia
"We didn't have any fifty from the top four batsmen in both the games. So we will expect that they get to settle and score a lot of runs in this match."
Bangladesh batsman Mohammad Ashraful puts the onus on the top-order to fire
"The momentum is with us at the moment. We won the last game and we hope we just do what we did in the second game well and look to improve. Hopefully we will be able to finish it off."
Zimbabwe seam bowler Shingi Masakadza eyes a good finish to the ODI series
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Mohammad Isam
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala