January 20, 2015
Start time 1500 local (0900 GMT)
Bangladesh are a step away from their second successive T20I series win over Zimbabwe © AFP
It is becoming increasingly difficult to predict playing XIs from both sides, who aren’t afraid to tinker with their combinations in their quest to narrow down on an ideal combination going into the World T20 in India.
Both Bangladesh and Zimbabwe have to play in the preliminary round, also featuring Oman, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Scotland, Ireland and Netherlands, with the top two teams progressing. That means, both sides will want to throw the younger players into the deep end, to see how they acclimatise to the pressure. That Bangladesh are sitting pretty with a 2-0 lead means the time is ripe for them to unleash their bench strength. Zimbabwe, meanwhile, are still smarting from their series loss to Afghanistan in UAE. Ordinary performances in the first two games means they are running out of time.
They rested the designated captain Elton Chigumbura among three players in the last game. It remains to be seen if they are brought back in at a crunch time. That apart, they will also need impact players like Sikandar Raza and Luke Jongwe to come good if they are to challenge the hosts in conditions as subcontinental as it can get.
With Bangladesh missing Mushfiqur Rahim due to a hamstring injury, even as Mustafizur Rahman and Al-Amin Hossain, their best seamers on show in the first two games, have been rested, Zimbabwe will hope to cash in on the relative inexperience of some of the Bangladesh players. Among them, Sabbir Rahman, will be keenly followed after his impressive outing in the previous game that also earned him the Man of the Match award.
(last five matches, most recent first)
In the spotlight
With Rahim out of the series, Nurul Hasan, who impressed in the Bangladesh Premier League, will now have a lot more focus on his batting as well. But his main job would be to keep things clean behind the stumps.
Malcolm Waller did well in the last T20 series in Bangladesh and also had his moments in the BPL, but hasn’t really come up with a blinding knock in this series. Zimbabwe will look at him to provide a late flourish.
Although Imrul Kayes has remained in the squad, it is likely that newcomer Mosaddek Hossain will come in place of Rahim, while three out of Taskin Ahmed, Muktar Ali, Mohammad Shahid and Abu Hider are likely to get a place in the XI.
Bangladesh: (probable) 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Sabbir Rahman, 4 Mahmudullah, 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Mosaddek Hossain, 7 Nurul Hasan (wk), 8 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 9 Muktar Ali, 10 Taskin Ahmed, 11 Abu Hider
With the series on the line, Zimbabwe could bring back their regular skipper, Chigumbura along with senior members Sikandar Raza and Luke Jongwe.
Zimbabwe: (probable) 1 Vusi Sibanda, 2 Hamilton Masakadza, 3 Sikandar Raza, 4 Sean Williams, 5 Malcolm Waller, 6 Elton Chigumbura (capt), 7 Richmond Mutumbami (wk), 8 Luke Jongwe, 9 Graeme Cremer, 10 Wellington Masakadza, 11 Taurai Muzarabani
Pitch and conditions
Favorable batting conditions are likely to continue. Both sides have started well with the bat, but haven’t been able to finish off the innings. The team batting second will have the advantage of dew, as it would allow the ball to slide onto the bat nicely, while making life difficult for the spinners.
Stats and trivia
- If Bangladesh hand debuts to three players, it will be the first time since December 2012, against West Indies. The uncapped players are Abu Hider, Mohammad Shahid, Mosaddek Hossain and Muktar Ali.
- In the previous game, Hamilton Masakadza became the first Zimbabwean to reach 3000 runs in T20s.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Source: ESPN Crickinfo