TOMORROW the Zimbabwe cricket team will have nothing but victory in their minds when they take on Bangladesh in the fourth match of their One-Day International (ODI) serie
s at the Bangabhandu National Stadium in Dhaka. A win for Zimbabwe in tomorrow’s tie will seal a timely and welcome series win for the young Zimbabwe side, which is 2-1 up in the series.
Tatenda Taibu’s men, after the disappointment of the Test series, showed that they still had something up their sleeves to comfortably race to a 2-0 lead in the ODIs before the home side managed to reduce the arrears with a 40 run win on Wednesday.
The young Zimbabwe team has always displayed a good fighting spirit even in the darkest periods of its 20-match losing streak, but winning was something it desperately needed. The manner and temperament in which they won the first two matches was even more pleasing, as the players showed a desire to win and learn from past mistakes.
Combined effort carried the day for Zimbabwe in the first two matches, with the middle order batsmen putting up important partnerships and patching up early wicket losses which might have proved disastrous. Good batting from Taibu, Barney Rogers and Elton Chigumbura enabled Zimbabwe to set defendable targets on a slow wicket which favoured the bowlers.
The 84 run stand between Taibu and Elton Chigumbura in the second match in particular, which set Zimbabwe on the victory path, was one of the best moments for the Zimbabwe team since being thrown into the international limelight.
It was also good to see Rogers getting two consecutive half-centuries in the second match, when he was voted man of the match, and in the third match on Wednesday. Rogers’ two knocks were most welcome especially with his opening partner Stuart Matsikenyeri not able to follow up on his promising batting in the Tests.
Zimbabwe are more than capable of winning one of the last two matches, but they will need to show some stability at the top of the order where Dion Ebrahim looked out-of-sorts and vulnerable with each delivered ball.
Vusi Sibanda, himself a bundle of nerves in the Tests, will be the first choice replacement if Ebrahim is dropped from the order as expected. But uncapped batsman Terrence Duffin will also be hoping to get the nod.
The spin bowlers, who played key roles in the matches played so far, should continue with their good job. Prosper Utseya remains as economical as ever, while the part-time spinners, Rogers and Brendan Taylor, have provided vital breakthroughs.
The Zimbabwe pace bowling attack utilised the pitch conditions well and stuck to the basics with a consistent good line and length. With the ball not coming on to the bat, the Zimbabwe seamers put pressure on the Bangladesh batsmen who had no answer to the fully pitched deliveries and variation of Douglas Hondo, Christopher Mpofu, Tinashe Panyangara and Chigumbura.
The toss will once again be a major factor in the outcome of the match. All three winning results so far in the series have been achieved after the captains won the toss and elected to bat first. But Zimbabwe should be prepared for anything and must be able to chase well.
The team’s batting philosophy of keeping wickets in hand and hitting big shots to the boundary in the later innings, which was employed to great effectiveness in the first two matches, must also be used when chasing a winning target.
Bangladesh will come with all guns blazing tomorrow knowing the integrity of
their cricket lies on that match. After winning their maiden Test series, the Dav Whatmore-coached side is desperate to follow up with a first ODI series victory as well. But the boys in red are also in line for a milestone achievement and will go all out to wrap up victory tomorrow.
If Bangladesh manage to level the series, the last match on Monday will be the ultimate grand finale to this exciting battle between Test cricket’s two youngest sides.