ODI series preview: Zimbabwe v Bangladesh


After the elation of victory on their Test return, it's back to the trenches for Zimbabwe as they take on Bangladesh in a format which is more familiar to both teams.

After the elation of victory on their Test return, it's back to the trenches for Zimbabwe as they take on Bangladesh in a format which is more familiar to both teams. The Test match turned out to be a pretty good contest which was only settled on the final day, and there's no reason why the one-day series won't be the same as two fairly evenly-matched sides face off over five games in two cities.

Bangladesh have won the last three series between these two countries – two of them at home in Bangladesh and one in Bulawayo – and have therefore been installed as favourites with the bookmakers, but it remains to be seen how they react to losing a Test for which they were ill-prepared and ill-equipped. There is a belief in the Zimbabwean camp (and they've come to know Bangladesh well through regular contests) that the subcontinental side do not have much of an appetite for adversity and so the hosts will fancy their chances, no doubt hugely buoyed by Monday's result.

A look at the two sides reveals that the tourists have more experience than their hosts, but Zimbabwe are not far behind in the quality stakes and an unexpected Test win could be just the tonic to overcome the deficit. Another factor weighing in Zimbabwe's favour is that they finally appear to have discovered some seamers with control, and can therefore prepare grassy wickets which nullify Bangladesh's great one-day strength: spin.

This suits Zimbabwe particularly well given that one of their key one-day spinners, Graeme Cremer, will have his leg in a cast for a further five weeks after undergoing surgery. We're therefore likely to see pitches similar to the one used in the Test – particularly for the first three games at Harare Sports Club – and a shift away from a reliance on spin from Zimbabwe. They'll certainly bring in Prosper Utseya and retain Ray Price, but they're also likely to field three seamers plus Elton Chigumbura, who seemed to have rediscovered his control during the Test.

Tino Mawoyo and Regis Chakabva have dropped out of the 14-man squad that was named for the Test, with Tendai Chatara, Forster Mutizwa and Malcolm Waller all coming in. Nobody played badly in the Test and so Utseya replacing Mawoyo could be the only change, except that it would leave Zimbabwe a batsman light.

Waller seems the best equipped to fill the second all-rounder's berth which would give the hosts plenty of batting and bowling, but as an offspinner might not be suited to a pace-heavy game plan. Keegan Meth could therefore crack the nod as a slightly better batsman than Kyle Jarvis, but expect that place to rotate (Mutizwa must also be in the running) and possibly be a thorn in Zimbabwe's side as they search for the right balance.

Meanwhile the Tigers could well go in with a very similar side to the one they fielded for the Test, knowing that they have the more aggressive batting line-up. There is a sense that this is a bigger series for them than it is for Zimbabwe in the wake of the Test result. They've just lost a Test to a team who hadn't played one in six years, showing that they really haven't progressed very much in the five-day game over that time. Were they to lose this one-day series by a reasonable margin it would suggest they've been standing still, with Zimbabwe merely dropping below Bangladesh due to their own administrative issues before slowly working their way back up.

Stuart Law feels that his side's attitude is slowly improving, but that will be put under the microscope as Bangladesh do their best to prove they have the resilience to bounce back from a Test defeat.

<b>Key Men</b><br><i>Zimbabwe:</i> It's the batting department where Zimbabwe are likely to look a touch light, but a return to form with the willow by <b>Elton Chigumbura</b> would go some way to solving that. His bowling performance in the Test should give him confidence.

<i>Bangladesh:</i> When <b>Tamim Iqbal</b> gets off to a flying start Bangladesh look a different team altogether. After his jabbering on day four of the Test backfired, he has something to prove in this one-day series.

<b>Last Five Head-To-Head Results</b>

December, 2010: Fifth ODI: Bangladesh won by six wickets<br>December, 2010: Fourth ODI: Match abandoned<br>December, 2010: Third ODI: Bangladesh won by 65 runs<br>December, 2010: Second ODI: Bangladesh won by six wickets<br>December, 2010: First ODI: Zimbabwe won by nine runs

<b>Prediction</b><br>This is a resurgent <b>Zimbabwe</b> side who have been galvanised as a unit by the situation they find themselves in, so there's no reason they can't carry their Test form into the one-day arena and squeak a series victory.

Online betting firm <a href='http://www.skybet.com/betting/cricket/c30.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><B>Sky Bet</B></a> has Bangladesh at 4/9 favourites in the <a href='http://www.skybet.com/betting/cricket/c30.html' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><B>betting</B></a> for overall series victory. Visit Sky Bet for the latest cricket betting.

<b>Probable Teams</b><br><i>Zimbabwe:</i> Brendan Taylor (capt), Vusi Sibanda, Hamilton Masakadza, Tatenda Taibu (wk), Craig Ervine, Elton Chigumbura, Forster Mutizwa, Prosper Utseya, Ray Price, Brian Vitori, Chris Mpofu

<i>Bangladesh:</i> Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Shahriar Nafees, Mohammad Ashraful, Mahmudullah, Shakib Al Hasan (capt), Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Abdur Razzak, Shafiul Islam, Rubel Hossain, Robiul Islam

<b>Fixtures</b><br>First ODI: 12 August, Harare<br>Second ODI: 14 August, Harare<br>Third ODI: 16 August, Harare<br>Fourth ODI: 19 August, Bulawayo<br>Fifth ODI: 21 August, Bulawayo

<b>Tristan Holme</b>