ZIMBABWE need to pick themselves up and fight to restore some form of pride when they face Bangladesh in the opening match of the One Day International series which begins tomorrow at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka.
The Chevrons, who have had a bad year in international cricket, will be playing their last competitive outing for 2018 in Bangladesh.
The team has not won a game in their last 10 ODIs with their last victory coming during the World Cup qualifier against Ireland when they hosted a 10-team jamboree back in March.
Zimbabwe go into the three-match ODI series against Bangladesh on the back of a thorough beating by South Africa in their recent visit to the neighbouring country.
Their batting has been the biggest let down and the return of all-rounder Sikandar Raza could help boost the squad. Raza missed the tour of South Africa because of a contractual standoff with the authorities but has since been cleared and is available for selection.
Yet the Zimbabweans were yesterday left with more questions than answers after a Bangladesh Cricket Board XI crushed them by eight wickets in a practice match.
As has been the trend, the batting line-up crumbled against the Bangladeshi fringe players, crashing to an eight wicket defeat. Only two players — captain Hamilton Masakadza (102) and Elton Chibumbura (47) — managed double digit scores as the BCB XI’’s fast bowlers ran through their line-up, bowling them out for 178 in 45.2 overs.
Chigumbura shared a 124-run partnership with Masakadza for the sixth wicket after they had slipped to 47 for five in the 16th over.
Ebadat Hossain took five wickets for 19 runs and Mohammad Saifuddin who was recalled in the ODI side after nine months, picked three for 32.
The result meant Zimbabwe need to do their homework thoroughly before going into combat against the ever-improving Tigers, who still look strong despite missing key players Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal through injuries.
Zimbabwean pacer Kyle Jarvis told Cricbuzz that they are eyeing a comeback against Bangladesh after their disappointing series against South Africa.
“Yeah, it was a tough tour in South Africa but we came here with a positive mindset and we came here to win the games.
“And there are no Shakib or Tamim who are two big players for Bangladesh. So we are very positive going forward,” said Jarvis.
This will be the second time that Zimbabwe tour Bangladesh this year having already featured in tri-nation ODI series in January apart from having players involved in the Bangladesh Premier League.
“We have some guys who played BPL and we play every year (in Bangladesh). So, we definitely have a good chance but it is always tough as they are a very good team,” said Jarvis.
However, Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes said they are not going to look much into Zimbabwe’s poor form this year. The former England wicket-keeper expects the newcomers in his team to make the most of their chances against Zimbabwe in the absence of trusted lieutenants Al Hasan and Iqbal.
Bangladesh are coming from a successful stint having made the final of the Asia Cup 2018, where they lost to India only off the last ball.
That should make the Tigers the favourites but Rhodes remained cautious.
“Zimbabwe got a beating in South Africa. No team likes that. I expect a wounded animal. They will be fighting for their (pride) and I expect tough opposition.
“They may turn it on against us after the kickback from South Africa. We are very guarded but we are also very determined to try and play our best cricket,” he told the ICC website.
Part of Rhodes’ worry stems from the fact that Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, two of the team’s premier players, are out with injuries, though that also provides an opportunity for youngsters to make a mark.
One of the other senior players with a niggle is captain Mashrafe Mortaza, and Mohammad Saifuddin has been called up in case Mortaza can’t make it.
“We think Saifuddin is a very good all-rounder. He has the ability to perform at the highest level. He has had a taste of international cricket. He has gone away and came back into the team. We expect him to be more mature.
“Mashrafe has had his injuries. He picked up an injury recently. We need to think about keeping someone ready as his replacement. We want to give Saifuddin some cricket so that he can be prepared. I like his approach and attitude and he looks stronger,” said Rhodes.
Zimbabwe ODI squad: Hamilton Masakadza (capt), Solomon Mire, Craig Ervine, Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams, Peter Moor, Elton Chigumbura, Donald Tiripano, Kyle Jarvis, Brandon Mavuta, Richard Ngarava, John Nyumbu, Wellington Masakadza, Tarisai Musakanda, Tendai Chatara and Cephas Zhuwao
Bangladesh ODI Squad: Mashrafe Mortaza (c), Mohammad Mithun, Liton Das, Mushfiqur Rahim, Ariful Haque, Mahmudullah, Mehidy Hasan, Nazmul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Abu Hider Rony, Nazmul Hossain Shanto, Mohammad Saifuddin, Fazle Mahmud, Imrul Kayes