It’s not too often that Bangladesh go into a tournament at the top level as the hot favourites. But the hosts of the tri-nation series will be expected to start New Year with a bang when they take on Zimbabwe in the tri-nation series opener today.
The famous Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur is ready to shake out of its slumber as the match is scheduled to start at 12:00pm and the Mirpur cricket ground will become only the sixth venue to host 100 ODI matches during the tri-nation series.
The home of cricket will follow Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG), Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), Harare Sporting Club and R Premadasa International Cricket Stadium, which have previously reached the mark.
This is going to be the first tri-nation series hosted by Bangladesh since January 2010 and the Mashrafe and Co will be looking to extend their good record against Zimbabwe after winning most of the matches and series in the past years, offering a shot at redemption after a recent nightmare tour in South Africa.
A positive start will be ideal given the compact nature of the series, which also features Sri Lanka, with each team playing four matches in two weeks culminating with the final on January 27.
A loss would be an embarrassment for the Bangladeshis, who must negotiate Zimbabweans if they are to make a run for the final.
The home side, without a coach since South Africa series last year, have been dominated at home turf under the leadership of Mashrafe since the beginning of their former coach Chandika Hathurusingha’s era.
It saw the Tigers posted series wins against Pakistan, India and South Africa following their first-ever appearance in the quarter-finals of the World Cup held in Australia and New Zealand. In the last three years, Bangladesh only lost one ODI series at their home against England in 2016. Skipper Mashrafe also believes Bangladesh are favourites at home soil and that is why he is eying commanding win in tri-nation series.
“Expectations are running high and we are expecting dominating win against our opponents in tri-nation series,” Mashrafe said at the press conference.
“We cannot underestimate our opponents. Zimbabwe are also an exciting team. They beat Sri Lanka recently. Sri Lanka also beat India recently. We must play consistent cricket to stay in the tournament,” Mashrafe added.
With explosive Soumya’s dismal batting show and Imrul Kayes fighting with injury, Anamul Haque will be pairing with Tamim to open the innings after almost two-years gap. Shakib, Mushfiq, Mahmudullah and Sabbir are the key in Tigers’ batting order. Management can keep faith on pace all-rounder Md Saifuddin’s multitalented capability. Shakib, Miraz or recalled spinner Sunzamul will guide Tigers’ spin department. Nasir is also capable of bringing breakthrough in crucial time.
Tigers’ pacers had a shaky 2017 with ball but pace sensation Mustafizur’s returns, Mashrafe’s incredible BPL season with ball and recalled pacer Abul Hasan’s swing bowling capability can make a new pace unit despite pacemanTaskin’s axing.
Zimbabwe on the other hand are eying to put their recent four-day Test heartache against South Africa behind them as they began their tour of Bangladesh, promising to make fresh start.