Seniors search for form as Bangladesh, Zimbabwe look to fight their way out of a corner
Given Afghanistan's blazing start in the tri-series, this is a match the other two sides will want to win to stay in the race
Bangladesh and Zimbabwe have been no match for Afghanistan in the T20I tri-series so far, so the game on Wednesday is one neither side can afford to slip up in. Both teams have failed to produce noteworthy moments so far, and both sets of senior players have gone through a rough time, though Bangladesh hold the advantage after having won the first encounter between the two. The hosts' problems against Afghanistan have resulted in quite a few changes to their squad for the remaining league matches, although only Soumya Sarkar's axing was as a result of his poor performances; Mahedi Hasan, Abu Hider and Yeasin Arafat were all dropped without playing a game.
Bangladesh must arrest the top-order slides that marred their chances in the first two matches. Seniors Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah have not made significant contributions yet, and the likes of Liton Das and Sabbir Rahman haven't pulled the team out of crises either. Among the bowlers, only Mohammad Saifuddin has stood out with wickets.
Zimbabwe have plenty to gain if they can manage to beat the under-fire home side. Much like in the case of Bangladesh, their senior batsmen - Brendan Taylor, Hamilton Masakadza, Sean Williams and Craig Ervine - must be desperate for runs. On the bowling front, Neville Madziva has at times impressed with his slower bouncers, and Kyle Jarvis has occasionally tested batsmen with pace and bounce, but Masakadza will probably rely on his spinners in the main to keep things tight.
It will be interesting to see if the two team managements feel some of their younger players can be tried out in their top orders. For Zimbabwe, that could mean breaking up the Taylor-Masakadza pairing, but one of them can add a bit of meat and experience down the order. As for Bangladesh, Mohammad Naim, the second-highest scorer in the last edition of the Dhaka Premier Division Cricket League, could get in at the top of the order.
Bangladesh: LWLWL (last five completed matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
Since his breakthrough 94 against West Indies in the World Cup, Liton Das hasn't crossed 33 in eight innings across formats, his last outing a duck against Afghanistan in the previous game. Some of Bangladesh's batting woes will go away if he finds form. Ryan Burl has been something of a surprise package for Zimbabwe in this tri-series, having made a rapid, unbeaten fifty against Bangladesh in the first game, and a run-a-ball 25 against Afghanistan. His side would hope for consistency from him in the rest of the series.
With Soumya axed from the squad, Bangladesh may look to hand a T20I debut to Mohammad Naim, the lanky opener who has impressed recently in domestic cricket. If they are willing to be a little adventurous, legspin-bowling allrounder Aminul Islam could be a possible replacement for Sabbir Rahman.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Mohammad Naim, 2 Liton Das, 3 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Mahmudullah, 6 Sabbir Rahman, 7 Mosaddek Hossain, 8 Afif Hossain, 9 Mohammad Saifuddin, 10 Taijul Islam, 11 Mustafizur Rahman
Zimbabwe can try out Chris Mpofu and Richmond Mutumbami, who are yet to play on this tour. Tony Munyonga, the 20-year-old allrounder, should get another opportunity as he neither batted nor bowled in his debut against Bangladesh on September 13.
Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Brendan Taylor (wk), 2 Hamilton Masakadza (capt), 3 Craig Ervine, 4 Sean Williams, 5 Tinotenda Mutombodzi, 6 Ryan Burl, 7 Regis Chakabva, 8 Neville Madziva, 9 Kyle Jarvis, 10 Ainsley Ndlovu, Tendai Chatara
Pitch and conditions
Sides batting first have averaged 138 runs in night games at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, but the totals vary wildly: from Netherlands' 39 all out to South Africa's 196 for 5.
There is a slight possibility of a shower in the evening.
Stats and trivia
- Asghar Afghan is now the second Afghanistan player to appear in 50 consecutive T20Is for his country. Mohammad Shahzad tops the overall list with 58.
- Mustafizur Rahman is one wicket short of becoming the second Bangladesh bowler to take 50 T20I wickets. Shakib is the overall leader with 90 wickets.
- Sabbir is 55 short of becoming the fifth batsman to reach 1000 T20I runs for Bangladesh.
"We know they [Bangladesh] are under pressure, but we have to get the basics right."
Zimbabwe allrounder Sean Williams on whether this is his side's best chance to push Bangladesh
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84