A confirmed place in the final of a tournament is something new for Bangladesh, especially when they still have two group matches left to play. However, they should not be complacent taking on a side that is one win away from making it to the final.
But Zimbabwe do need to fix a few things. As was clear in Sunday’s loss to Sri Lanka, their batting tends to fizzle out after a good start. Hamilton Masakadza and Solomon Mire may hold the key once again. They will have to find a way to counter Bangladesh’s spinners, but a little bit of support might help. In the middle order, Craig Ervine has made four runs in three innings. Brendan Taylor still appears to be easing back into international cricket again. Malcolm Waller and Peter Moor have been under par too.
A different kind of challenge awaits the Bangladesh batsmen. Blessing Muzarabani and Kyle Jarvis will want to test them with pace and bounce and, as such, the in-form Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan will want to mix aggression with discretion. The home side would also want bigger contributions from Anamul Haque and Sunzamul Islam, given how there are other players vying for their spots.
In the spotlight
Shakib Al Hasan has already made the No. 3 position his own, looking assured while chasing or while building on a good start when batting first. His bowling too has been good, having picked up three wickets in each of the two matches. He will want to keep his form going, going into the final.
Craig Ervine has scores of 0, 2 and 2 in the series so far. He has scored only one fifty in his last 10 innings and would want to put in a big performance soon.
Zimbabwe’s trouble against left-arm spin means that Sunzamul Islam is likely to return to the playing XI. Mohammad Saifuddin could be benched as a result.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Anamul Haque, 3 Shakib Al Hasan, 4 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 5 Mahmudullah, 6 Nasir Hossain, 7 Sabbir Rahman, 8 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 9 Sunzamul Islam, 10 Mustafizur Rahman, 11 Rubel Hossain
Zimbabwe could be switching wicketkeepers to give Taylor some relief from back trouble. Craig Ervine’s form may raise eyebrows but he is a long-term No. 3 and is likely to be given another chance.
Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Hamilton Masakadza, 2 Solomon Mire, 3 Craig Ervine, 4 Brendon Taylor, 5 Sikandar Raza, 6 Malcolm Waller, 7 Peter Moor (wk), 8 Graeme Cremer (capt), 9 Kyle Jarvis, 10 Blessing Muzarabani, 11 Tendai Chatara
Pitch and conditions
The Mirpur pitches have been a bit hard to bat on early in the afternoon, but batsmen who have decided to grind it out for at least 20 overs have found reward later on in the innings. The weather remains great, with low temperatures and a cool breeze.
Stats and trivia
- Shakib Al Hasan’s six wickets in the first two matches this year is equal to how many he took in 14 ODIs in 2017
- Sikandar Raza is 14 runs short of scoring 2,000 ODI runs
“All the players from this group are hungry to achieve something in the series. It’s a very good sign.”
Bangladesh batsman Tamim Iqbal
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
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