Published: December 1, 2010
When Bangladesh kick off their five-match one-day series against Zimbabwe today there would be only one expectation: maintain the purple patch leading upto next year’s World Cup.
The Tigers are buoyant after their recent 4-0 drubbing of New Zealand and go into the first one-dayer at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur with the tag of ‘favourites’, but refreshingly there has been a common sentiment among the players that the job would not be so easy as they dubbed Zimbabwe “a better side” in this conditions than the Kiwis.
In one sense pressure would be on Shakib Al Hasan’s men to keep the momentum going as well as grab the opportunity to improve on the ICC ODI rankings. A 5-0 series win over the visitors would see Bangladesh move up to eighth place, pushing West Indies to ninth.
Another interesting fact is that Bangladesh lost the first game against the Africans in the last three series, so it would be another challenge for Jamie Siddons’s boys to break the jinx this time around, but most importantly it’s Bangladesh’s last international engagement before the showcase event and that’s why anything other than victory would be a setback for them.
“I think this is their [Zimbabweans'] second home ground because Zimbabwe visited this country more often than others and they are all familiar with the conditions here. Zimbabwe are a very experienced side because these players have been playing together for long time. And they have a very good spin attack,” said Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, who is all set to make a comeback to international cricket after twisting his ankle in the first match of the New Zealand series as the team think-tank announced the playing eleven leaving pacers Rubel Hossain, Nazmul Hossain, Rokibul Hasan and Naeem Islam out.
“Our main focus should be on sticking to the basics rather than trying something extraordinary. I believe everybody is focused on this series because we will not get the chance to play international cricket before the World Cup,” he added.
Opener Tamim Iqbal, who will also make his comeback after missing the New Zealand series, echoed the same sentiment.
“Winning is a habit and you may have not forgotten that we had an impressive performance in the 2007 World Cup because we won a good number of matches before the big event. So, this series is very important for us and what I believe is it would be a tougher task than New Zealand as Zimbabwe are a very good side in this conditions,” opined Tamim.
“But we can beat any team in the world if we can play to our potential,” added the confident left-hander, who received the Wisden Cricketer Magazine’s certificate of the Test Player of the Year for 2010 from Tigers captain Shakib yesterday.
In this series the focus would also be on some individual players, especially everybody will be looking forward to see how Ashraful takes the opportunity after missing the last series because of poor form.
“Ashraful gets another chance. He’s a great player but I want to see the great player dominate and make the big runs. I don’t want him to score some quick 20s and 30s,” coach Siddons forewarned.
The Bangladesh think-tank broke the winning combination to make ways for Mashrafe, Tamim and Ashraful, who came in place of Rokibul after some good knocks in the
Mashrafe, the “Narail Express”, expressed his optimism by saying that he was fully fit to contribute something to the team.
“I’m confident and I know I have to perform to keep my place on the team. I’m looking forward to playing competitive match after a long break. I also want to contribute with the bat because we could not capitalise on the last Powerplay due to lower-order failure,” said a confident Mashrafe.
On the other hand Tamim can’t wait for playing international cricket as he said that he did have the usual target of becoming the highest scorer in the series.
“I am returning to cricket after a long injury layoff and I can’t wait to take to the field. My main target would be to bat as long as possible and I believe the lack of match practice would not be an issue for me,” said the dashing left-hander