Tigers take on Zimbabwe today
Bangladesh have never won a tri-series, having hosted six such tournaments before the ongoing one and the only time the Tigers reached the final of a tri-nation was back in 2009, when the Tigers went on to lose the final to Sri Lanka.
Things have changed over the past few years. Bangladesh have already confirmed their place in the final of the ongoing tri-series with two group matches in hand and the hosts will have a hand in determining who among Zimbabwe or Sri Lanka will join them in the final.
Zimbabwe are currently better placed as their net run rate is superior to Sri Lanka's and a win today will mean that Sri Lanka will have to win the last group game against Bangladesh by a big margin to have a chance of making the final.
Despite already confirming a final spot, the Tigers will want to continue the brand of cricket they have played in the first two games and will not want to lose any of the momentum they have mustered.
Bangladesh outclassed their opponents in all three departments in both matches so far, beating Zimbabwe comfortably by eight wickets in the first match and then registering their biggest ODI win, in terms of runs, by handing Sri Lanka a 163-run defeat in the next game.
Bangladesh are likely to opt for the same combination that played against Zimbabwe in the first game, keeping the opposition's weakness against left-arm spinners in mind. Left-arm spinner Sunzamul Islam, who was dropped from the second game despite bowling brilliantly with the new ball and taking one for 29 from 10 overs, is likely to replace pace-bowling all-rounder Mohammad Saifuddin.
The senior members of the Bangladesh team will once again have to take responsibility with the likes of Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mahmudullah Riyad and skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza looking to guide the side much like they did in the previous two games.
“I believe every player in this squad has the same hunger for each and every match. Every international match brings an opportunity for players to score a hundred or get five wickets. All the players from this group are hungry to achieve something in the series. It's a very good sign. The remaining two matches before the final are equally important for us. If you can score a hundred or take five wickets, then it will count as well,” Tamim told reporters yesterday.
From Zimbabwe's point of view, Graeme Cremer's side need to improve their batting, especially the middle order which failed to provide any resistance so far.
Craig Ervine has scored 0, 2 and 2 in his last three innings coming into bat at the crucial number three spot while openers Hamilton Masakadza and Solomon Mire, who did get starts, were unable to make it big.
It will be equally important for the likes of Brendan Taylor, Sikandar Raza and Malcom Walller to overcome their weakness against left-arm spin, which has been the biggest concern for Zimbabwe.
Despite posting a small target of 199 in the previous game, Zimbabwe's bowlers managed to trouble the Sri Lankan batsmen, with tall pacer Blessing Muzarabani extracting substantial pace and bounce to take three wickets in quick succession.
The other two fast bowlers in Tendai Chatara and Kyle Jarvis also surprised the batsmen with some extra pace and changes of length, and they will surely look to test Bangladesh's batsmen along with skipper Cremer and Raza in the spin department.
The wicket at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium has been a mixed bag, depending on which strip is being used on the day. Zimbabwe will be hoping that they get the batting-friendly wicket that helped them beat Sri Lanka in the second match, while Bangladesh have proved that they have the tools to exploit whatever conditions Mirpur throws up.