Everyone's been talking about England v Australia on October 21 as a prelude to the much-hyped Ashes but hang on a moment. Let's first get stuck into what promises to be the first real competitive match of the Champions Trophy, a prelude to Zimbawbe's tour to Bangladesh in early November. It's no doubt a basement battle but both teams are eager for a psychological point, or three.
Bangladesh's recent tour to Zimbabwe was a mini-disaster. They went down 3-2 in the five-match one-day series and speculation was rife about internal friction. For a team that's occasionally stood up to challenge top-quality opposition like Australia, India and Sri Lanka, it came as a rude shock to be felled by an unheralded bunch. Habibul Bashar, who was ruled out of the latter part of the series owing to a finger injury, termed it as one of the most disappointing results of his career. He's made no bones about the fact that it was make-or-break time for Bangladesh.
Having gone in with an unchanged side for the opening two games - when they surrendered to Sri Lanka and West Indies - Bangladesh are likely to make a couple of changes to their squad. Mohammad Ashraful, who hasn't come off after being pushed up the order, and Syed Rasel, the left-arm seamer, are likely to face the chop. Likely to come in their place are Rajin Saleh and Mehrab Hossain, who's yet to make his international debut.
Zimbabwe too have had a bagful of batting worries - none of their batsmen has yet crossed 30. Yet, faced against a lesser-quality bowling attack, the likes of Brendon Taylor and Stuart Matsikenyeri are well capable of the big ones. Unlike Bangladesh, who have an array of left-arm spinners to call upon, Zimbabwe might rely primarily on their medium-pacers - Gary Brent has been approved as a replacement for Terrance Duffin who has flown home ill - and it's a fact that might work to their favour later in the evening. Chris Gayle, who motored to a century yesterday, admitted that batting under lights hadn't been easy, with the pitch tending to keep a bit low and the ball moving around disconcertingly.
Neither team has one Champions Trophy game so far but it's a stat that will mostly be altered. There's no sign of rain in the air and in case it's a tie, we'd have probably had the best match of the tournament from two teams on their way back home.
Bangladesh (likely) 1 Shahriar Nafees, 2 Rajin Saleh, 3 Aftab Ahmed, 4 Habibul Bashar (capt), 5 Farhad Reza, 6 Saqibul Hasan, 7 Khaled Mashud (wk), 8 Mohammad Rafique, 9 Abdur Razzaq, 10 Mashrafe Mortaza, 11 Mehrab Hossain jnr.
Zimbabwe (from) 1 Prosper Utseya (capt), 2 Gary Brent, 3 Chamu Chibhabha, 4 Elton Chigumbura, 5 Anthony Ireland, 6 Tafadzwa Kamungozi, 7 Hamilton Masakadza, 8 Stuart Matsikenyeri, 9 Tafadzwa Mufambisi, 10 Tawanda Mupariwa, 11 Ed Rainsford, 12 Piet Rinke, 13 Gregory Strydom, 14 Brendan Taylor