Battle of spinners | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 01, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 01, 2010

Micromax ODI Cup Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe

Battle of spinners

Zimbabwe coach Heath Streak (R) imparts some words of wisdom to his young all-rounder Keegan Meth during practice at Mirpur yesterday. Streak, who played during better times for Zimbabwe cricket, will be hoping his presence as coach inspires his charges to creditable performances in their one-day series against Bangladesh. Photo: STAR

Rival coaches predicted spin bowling to be the deciding factor in the five-match one-day series between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
Today's series opener, on the slow surface of the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, will be as much a battle between Shakib Al Hasan and Ray Price as it will be for the batsmen of both sides to tackle the spinners.
Bangladesh's head coach Jamie Siddons and his Zimbabwean counterpart Alan Butcher were of the same opinion about spin bowlers being their strengths, with the Australian coining the term "battle of the spinners".
"We have to stick to our strength which is spin bowling. They got good spinners as well. I think it will be a battle of the spinners," Siddons told the media yesterday.
"We got more left-arm spinners and they have a few right-handed batsmen so that will work for us," he added.
Butcher, who took over the coaching duties for Zimbabwe in February this year, said that his team would rely heavily on the likes of Graeme Cremer, Prosper Utseya and Price.
"Spin is our main strength. We also have some talented batsmen like [Brendan] Taylor and [Tatenda] Taibu. Plus we are a good fielding side as well," said Butcher, adding that the Tigers would be firm favourites.
While Shakib has taken 36 wickets from the 25 matches he played against Zimbabwe, Abdur Razzak has clearly troubled the tourists in the past. In 21 games, the left-arm spinner has taken 40 wickets, with his career-best 5 for 29 also coming against the southern Africans. Sohrawardi Shuvo, who made his debut earlier this year, is another left-arm proposition with Mahmudullah Riyad also providing some balance with his off-breaks.
Add to that, the Zimbabweans succumbed to the second-string spinners of the country in their only practice match on Monday, when the BCB XI beat them by 29 runs at BKSP. Although left-arm spin played little part in the game, the tourists found it tough to handle the slow bowlers.
"It wasn't so much the spin as it was the confidence. I think we lacked belief and confidence [in the practice match] and couple of the senior players got in and then got out. I hope they get the big scores tomorrow [Wednesday]," said Butcher.
It would still not be wise to count Zimbabwe out as they surprised Bangladesh a year back by winning the first match. Siddons pointed out that the Tigers will have to play "great cricket" to beat them. "Zimbabwe are here full of bubble, full of confidence and they are ready to win the series. We have to knock them backwards in the first game, keep a foot on them and push them down further," he said.
"We have to play a bit better, take the step up. We were too good against New Zealand in the last series. Hopefully the same will occur against Zimbabwe," added Siddons.
For the same thing (series win) to take place, Bangladesh will have to play the three-man spin attack very well. Unlike Bangladesh, Zimbabwe have three different spinners, Price's accurate left-arm spin will be complemented by the slow off-spin of Utseya and Cremer's leg-breaks.
Though Cremer doesn't possess the numbers like Price (24 wickets) or Utseya (19 wickets) against Bangladesh, Tigers batsmen struggle against his type of bowling. 30-year-old Keith Dabengwa, not among the first choice, also bowled well against Bang-ladesh in the past, taking his career best 3-15 last year.
Butcher, who played 402 first-class games but just the one Test for England, knows that it will be the wicket of Shakib that will be vital for his side. "The captain [Shakib Al Hasan] can make the difference. He's a good cricketer. The last time we played against Bangladesh, we bowled too short and wide. We will not let him play the cut shot," he said.
Siddons too believed that too much relies on Shakib. "We can't rely on Shakib [Al Hasan]. We need a bit more from the other players. Imrul [Kayes] and [Junaed Siddiqui] Imrose need to step up, especially Imrose batting at number three so that Shakib doesn't get exposed early on," he said.
The 46-year-old Australian frankly said that pressure during this series would be nothing like how it will be in the World Cup, saying, "There will be more pressure during the World Cup, so they'll need to handle it. This is no pressure.”

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