DHAKA. — The last time Zimbabwe won an ODI cricket match against Bangladesh was in May 2013, and the last time they beat the Tigers in an ODI in Bangladesh was in December 2010. Having lost the last 10 contests between the sides and coming off a winless tour of South Africa, it may seem that there is little reason for Zimbabwe skipper Hamilton Masakadza to be optimistic.
However, the Zimbabwe team were in high spirits as they had their first practice session of the tour at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Wednesday, ahead of the three-match ODI series set to start this Sunday.
“It is a very important series. We’ve played a lot against each other; it’s always been competitive and I expect it to be competitive this time around as well,” Masakadza said.
A cricketing culture perennially in turmoil because of conflict between the board and the players, Zimbabwe do have the benefit this time of having a lot of players back in their ranks, including star all-rounder Sikandar Raza, who was out of the picture for a while because of a contract dispute.
“(Raza is) obviously a big inclusion to the team. It adds a lot of value. (He) bowls and bats and is also a very good fielder.”
One other thing in their favour will be that Bangladesh have to play without two of their biggest stalwarts in Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan, both of whom will miss the series due to injury.
“Obviously those are two very big players for Bangladesh who have performed for them for quite a long time,” Masakadza said.
“But Bangladesh have a lot of players; they’ve obviously got a few replacements waiting, so I don’t think it will take too much out of them.”
“I believe we have the personnel to do the job. We’ve got good youngsters that are coming through and good experience.
“I think we definitely have the team to be able to win games here.”
Zimbabwe are experiencing a torrid 2018 and they were trounced 3-0 by South Africa in the recently concluded away series.
Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes, however, sees Zimbabwe as a tough opposition and expects them to come out firing, hinting that his side is not going to take the tourists lightly when the ODI series starts on Sunday.
“Zimbabwe have just come from South Africa and they got a beating. No team likes that. I expect a wounded animal, somebody who is going to be fighting for their lives. I expect a tough opposition. I think the kick back from the South Africa series could be that they turn it on against us.”
Bangladesh are missing two of their most important players in the form of Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan. Three of Shakib’s seven ODI tons have come against Zimbabwe, while Tamim and Shakib are also the Tigers’ top run-getters against Zimbabwe in ODIs.
Rhodes knows that two of their most important players are missing in action and talked about being “guarded” against a Zimbabwe onslaught while also saying that it will be an opportunity for two other cricketers to make their mark and stake a claim for a place in the Tigers’ ODI line-up.
“We are very guarded, also very determined to play our best cricket. We know we are two players light. Two good players. It will be an opportunity for two others.
“Our approach has to be about making sure that we perform our duty out on the cricket field.
“If we do that, then we don’t have to worry about the opposition,” said Rhodes. — Daily Star.