Preview- Bangla Tigers have edge against out of confidence Zimbabwe
Bangladesh and Zimbabwe have shared an intense rivalry in the last decade, across formats. Bangladesh, which has improved significantly in recent times, has had the better of Zimbabwe mostly. But the two still always produce some classic encounters whenever they square off.
We can expect some more excitement when the two teams face-off in the 1st match of the Bangladesh Tri-Series 2019 (the third team of the series being Afghanistan) at Dhaka. Interestingly, in the last 5 T20I matches between the two teams, Bangladesh has won only twice and lost three games. Another concern for the home side would be their recent T20I form – they lost 2-1 to West Indies at home in December last year in a T20I series.
Regardless, Bangladesh has a solid batting unit. Tamim Iqbal and Liton Das are likely to be the opening duo and can really dent the opposition with their aggressive batting. Bangladesh has a lot of depth in batting with the experienced stalwarts Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim manning the middle-order. The others to watch out for in this game would be Mahmudullah and the exciting Sabbir Rahman if he is selected.
Bangladesh’s bowling has plenty of variety and will be led by the dependable Mustafizur Rahman and the left-arm spin of captain Shakib Al Hasan. The young and talented Mohammad Saifuddin who impressed in the World Cup 2019 in England can play a vital role. Mehidy Hasan is another spinner who can make things difficult for Zimbabwe if the pitch is slow.
Zimbabwe will have their task cut out trying to upstage the Bangla Tigers at home. After being suspended by the ICC for participating in ICC tournaments it remains to be seen how their confidence is at present.
A lot will depend on Zimbabwe’s batting and captain Hamilton Masakadza would have to be the mainstay. The experienced Masakadza is playing in his last international series and would like to make a statement. Craig Ervine, Ryan Burl, Timycen Maruma and wicket-keeper batsman Regis Chakabva are inexperienced in these conditions but do have lots of talent. The experience of Sean Williams (165 runs in last 6 T20Is) in the middle will help Zimbabwe and he may well be the one who makes the difference in this game.
Zimbabwe’s bowling has potential. Seamer Kyle Jarvis has been in good form (8 wickets in last 6 T20Is) and should be leading the unit along with Chris Mpofu and Tendai Chatara. Zimbabwe lacks an experienced spin bowler in its ranks and might have to depend on the raw Ainsley Ndlovu and Tinotenda Mutombodzi.
Match prediction – Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe:
The pitch at Shere Bangla National Stadium, Dhaka, is expected to be good for batting with slower bowlers having the say in the middle overs. The highest total on this venue is 211-4 by Bangladesh against the West Indies in December 2018.
Scores in excess of 190 has been scored 8 times on this ground. In the match of this tri-series between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, expect the team batting first to score in excess of 170-180. The average second innings score here is 129. Which indicates that chasing might be difficult. But the combined total by both the teams should be around 340- 350 runs.
The result of the match is likely to have an effect on the fortunes of both the teams in the series. Bangladesh has an all-round and solid unit. Playing at home, they start off as favorites for this encounter against a Zimbabwe side that is going through a rough patch. But a collective effort by Zimbabwe might help them surprise the home side.