It’s not too often that Bangladesh go into a home series at the top level as the hot favourites. But fresh from stellar performance in the recently-concluded West Indies series and Asia Cup, Bangladesh will go in with a lot of confidence while taking on Zimbabwe in their three-match ODI series opener today.
The match is scheduled to begin at 2:30pm at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka.
Despite the unavailability of stars like Shakib AL Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, there seems to be little that can stop the Mashrafe Mortaza-led Bangladesh team from clinching the series, unless Zimbabwe side shrug off the dismal records against Bangladesh.
A positive start will be ideal given the compact nature of the series but a loss would be an embarrassment for the Bangladesh.
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza also dwelled on the importance of the series opener during a pre-match press conference on Saturday.
“We are focusing on the first match. We are confident to have a winning start and everyone are expecting a win. But our main focus is to hold on to the momentum which we had during Asia Cup. Zimbabwe have a strong side and recently their seniors came back. So we have to give a whole-hearted effort against Zimbabwe,” he said.
Eyeing an a ODI series win, the Mashrafe-led Bangladesh will look to sort out its batting woes and patchy form when it takes on a wounded Zimbabwean side who were humiliated in the practice match against BCB XI on Friday.
With Tamim fighting with injury and Soumya was dropped, Imrul Kayes or Nazmul Hasan Shanto will be pairing with Liton Das to open Bangladesh’s innings. Mushfiqur Rahman and Mahmudullah Riyad are the key in the Tigers’ batting order.
However, Fazle Mahmud and Ariful are some of the most consistent performers in recent domestic fixtures and both are set to make their ODI debut.
Management also kept a faith on pacer all-rounder Saifuddin’s capability. This means it will be a toss-up between Saifuddin and Ariful for the role of hard hitting in death overs, with Fazle Mahmud all set to bat in the middle order.
An attack centred on versatile paceman Mustafizur Rahman, pace- spearhead Mashrafe Mortaza, death-bowling specialist Rubel Hossain and Abu Hider, and miserly spinners Nazmul Islam and Mehedi Hasan Miraz can prove mighty tough for Zimbabwe to handle.
Fearless opener Soumya Sarkar can get a recall after the Asia Cup snub. Soumya slammed century against Zimbabwe in only warm-up match.
Bangladesh ODI squad: Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah Riyad, Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain, Md Saifuddin, Abu Haider Rony, Fazle Mahmud, Ariful Hoque, Mahedi Hasan Miraz, Nazmul Islam Apu, Md Mithun, Liton Das, Imrul Kayes and Nazmul Hossain Shanto.