Bangladesh Vs Zimbabwe ODI series : It's time to widen the gap
As part of their world cup preparation Bangladesh is touring Zimbabwe for the second time in eight months. Last trip was a disaster, in which Bangladesh, highly tipped as favourite lost the series 3-2. After that series, Bangladesh met Zimbabwe six times and won all six matches comfortably. It is widely anticipated that Bangladesh has improved significantly as a team and is well ahead of current Zimbabwe. Bangladesh's failuer in the last away series raised some eyebrow. Now its the time to show that the previous outing was a one off incident and Bangladesh cricket stands well ahead of Zimbabwe.
In the current tour Bangladesh will be playing four ODI's in a span of 11 days. The ODI's are scheduled on on February 4, 6, 9 and 10. The team will fly for Harare on January 31, 2006.
Bangladeshi slectors have opted for experience for the first time in recent times. Mohammad Sharif is back in the squad after five long years and another experienced pace bowler Tapash Baisya is also back after 25 ODI's. Veteran wicket keeper Khaled Mashud misses the tour for injury which he sustained in current Dhaka Premier League. Tushar Imran again got a seat in the musical chair at the expense of young Nadif Chowdhury. In search for a suitable opening partner of Shahriar Nafees, selectors awarded a wild card entry to explosive batsman, Tamim Iqbal. He is a clean hitter of cricket ball and performed consistently in the domestic circuit before getting national call. The most notable absentee is young pace man Syed Rasel wh0 proved his effectiveness whenever he got opportunity.
Squad for the Zimbabwe tour
Habibul Bashar (Captain), Shahriar Nafees (Vice-captain), Aftab Ahmed, Mohammad Rafique, Mashrafee bin Mortuza, Tushar Imran, Mohammad Ashraful, Sakib Al Hasan, Mehrab Hossain, Shahadat Hossain, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Mohammad Sharif, Tapash Baisya, Abdur Razzak and Tamim Iqbal.
Bangladesh is starting their campaign in 2007 with a relatively easy away tour. Although return of Douglas Hondo might boost the struggling bowling attack of Zimbabwe, everyone is expecting another clean sweep by Bangladesh team. If Bangladesh can achieve that, the gap between the standard of cricket between Bangladesh and rest of the minnow nations including Zimbabwe will be more evident. A 3-1 series win might please some fans but will definitely raise some concern. Any other result will be considered unacceptable to the fans and well-wishers especially when World Cup in the Caribbeans is looming in the horizon.
Now, its time to look back. Now a days, whenever Bangladesh meet Zimbabwe, fans expect an easy win. In some cases fans even complain about the possible gain of Bangladesh with matches against Zimbabwe.
From the ICC trophy level, Zimbabwe was dominating the tie between these two teams. In the ICC trophy, Bangladesh played 3 matches against Zimbabwe and lost all of them. Tigers had to wait a long time before tasting a victory against the lions. After playing 10 matches with consecutive defeats, Bangladesh defeated Zimbabwe on 10 March 2004 at Harare for the first time in their cricketing history. Young Ashraful's heroics coupled with solid performance from Captain Habibul Bashar and Rajin Saleh earned the valuable win. Zimbabwe cricket went through some controversial reforms in late 2004 which resulted in rebellion by some key players. After Zimbabwe lost the key players, the fate started to shine for Bangladesh. Now, its the tale of Bangladesh's progress and Zimbabwe's slide.
Until the end of 2004, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe met 13 times and Zimbabwe was leading the stat with a 12-1 record.
Zimbabwe toured Bangladesh in early 2005. This a series to be remembered by many Bangladeshi fans as they earned the first ever ODI and test series win. Bangladesh won the 5 match ODI series by a margin of 3-2 after conceding the first two games. Since then, Bangladesh is dominating the frontier. From January 2005, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe fought 16 times to take the ODI pride. Bangladesh was victorious in 11 occasions. As I mentioned previously, this turnaround in the fate is contributed by Zimbabwe's decline in cricketing standard along with consistent progress of Bangladesh team. Apart from infamous 3-2 series loss in the last away series, Bangladesh always looked better among the two teams.
Bangladesh is now in a winning streak against Zimbabwe. After losing the away series in the 4th Match at Harare, Bangladesh defeated Zimbabwe in all the 7 matches they played including a 5-0 whitewash in the home soil.
It appears to the cricket pundits that Bangladesh is a better team among the two in the sub-continent conditions. In Zimbabwean condition or in fast bouncy wickets it's still difficult to distinguish the differences between these two teams. Bangladesh is now on a mission to prove this hypothesis wrong.
This away series will be a real test for both teams. Bangladesh will try to keep the winning streak and prove the last series loss as fluke while Zimbabwe will fight hard to make the record straight again.
From a more realistic point of view, this is a series where Bangladesh has all to lose but virtually nothing to gain. A series win by Bangladesh will be taken lightly by cricket world as everyone expects that. If, for any reason Bangladesh fail to achieve that feat, everyone will come hard on Bangladesh. Bangladesh's progress in 2006 will again come under microscope and obviously It will badly affect the morale of the team before world cup.
Now, the only way to prevent these happenings is to outperform Zimbabwe in their soil and start the world cup with head high. It might not add a huge thing to Bangladesh's credit but will certainly prevent any form of humiliation.
Last edited by Miraz; January 30, 2007 at 10:20 AM..