Khulna – Zimbabwe’s 31-run win in the third T20 cricket match has suddenly made the final game today more meaningful.
Bangladesh are leading 2-1, but they were thrown off kilter by the visitors’ six-hitting spree and tight bowling in the previous game.
Malcolm Waller was the main man, producing a 23-ball 49 that ensured that Zimbabwe got to a big score from a position of relative strength.
Hamilton Masakadza and Vusi Sibanda started off well before Sean Williams and Waller took up the quick run-making. Their spin attack – Tendai Chisoro, Graeme Cremer and Sikandar Raza – took the game away from Bangladesh with wickets and by controlling the scoring rate.
But what clinched it for Zimbabwe was their ability to clear the boundary.
They struck eight sixes and not all were slogs. They seem to have a better sense of the Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium’s dimensions, finding the shorter boundaries with ease.
Zimbabwe received a blow on the eve of the match when the ICC announced that left-arm swing bowler Brian Vitori was reported for a suspect bowling action. However, he will be available for the fourth game.
Peter Moor could make way for designated captain Elton Chigumbura. Chamu Chibhabha could also play, given that Dav Whatmore had said that everyone will get at least one game.
“I think the next game is very important because it now stands at 2-1. We will try to do exactly what we did on Wednesday: Play our best cricket, do the things right and hopefully come out on top and level the series,” Waller said
Cremer is the bowling leader, and has proved that he can provide a breakthrough and if not, he can keep things tight with accurate legspin. He will once again be a key figure for Zimbabwe in today’s game.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, are trying to balance out the degree of experimentation with their playing XI and the plan to win. They deployed four debutants, three of whom were playing at the international level for the first time. Except for Sabbir Rahman, none of the other regular players performed.
The game could end up being the only close one in the four-match series, but both teams will still be on the lookout for any performing newcomer.
For Bangladesh, securing the series win will seem to matter a little more, given how they lost the third game.
Rahman has been Bangladesh’s most consistent performer in the series so far. He has possibly secured the No 3 spot for the immediate future, with his ability to pick up the pace of the innings.
Tamim Iqbal, Taskin Ahmed and Arafat Sunny could all make the playing XI with the series on the line. Abu Hider and Mosaddek Hossain could be retained, while Imrul Kayes may lose out with Soumya Sarkar continuing to open the innings.
“I don’t think there’s extra pressure on us (in the fourth game). We have played under more pressure in the past. We have to keep planning and look to win,” Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza said.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Soumya Sarkar, 3 Sabbir Rahman, 4 Mahmudullah, 5 Shakib Al Hasan, 6 Mosaddek Hossain, 7 Nurul Hasan (wk), 8 Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), 9 Arafat Sunny, 10 Taskin Ahmed, 11 Abu Hider
Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Hamilton Masakadza, 2 Vusi Sibanda, 3 Chamu Chibhabha, 4 Sean Williams, 5 Malcolm Waller, 6 Sikandar Raza, 7 Elton Chigumbura (capt), 8 Richmond Mutumbami (wk), 9 Graeme Cremer, 10 Tendai Chisoro, 11 Taurai Muzarabani – ESPNcricinfo