Whitewash on the menu for Tigers
Despite having already won the three-match ODI series with a game in hand, Bangladesh will still be eyeing a clean sweep in the third and final ODI against Zimbabwe in Harare today.
The visitors did manage to win the first two games quite comfortably in the end, but batting has remained one of their biggest areas of concern. In both games, it took individual heroics from Liton Das and Shakib Al Hasan for the Tigers to eventually go past the final hurdle.
Liton scored a decisive hundred in the first ODI where Bangladesh, at one stage, was struggling on 74 for four inside 19 overs. In the end, the visitors managed to post a challenging total of 276, riding on the wicket-keeper batsman's century.
Ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan played a pivotal role with both bat and ball in the first two games. In the first ODI, the champion cricketer bagged his third five-wicket haul of his ODI career to help bundle out Zimbabwe on 121 runs, resulting in a convincing 155-run win.
The star cricketer, who had been struggling with his batting form, finally turned the tables in the second ODI where once again, Bangladesh was struggling on 75 for four in 18 overs at one stage while chasing a modest target of 241. This time, Shakib stood firm for the Tigers and struck an unbeaten 96-run knock and added an unbeaten match-winning 69-run partnership for the eighth-wicket with Mohammad Saifuddin who remained unbeaten on 28.
All-rounder Saifuddin informed that the Tigers will eye those ten points and won't take the third game lightly by any means today.
"Look, every game is important, each point is vital and every series is crucial for us keeping the upcoming 2023 World Cup in mind. If you have noticed, Tamim Bhai (Tamim Iqbal) is playing the matches despite carrying an injury as the super league points matter and so every player is trying to give their best keeping that in mind.
"There is no chance to take Zimbabwe lightly as every team is strong at their home soil. Maybe things got tough for us in bringing the result in our favour but we still have a game to keep working in the right direction. Our aim will be to whitewash them and win the series 3-0," said Saifuddin to the media yesterday.
Skipper Tamim, still struggling with his knee injury, is set to return home after the ODI series and thus the left-hander will not take part in the three-match T20I series in Zimbabwe. Moreover, the experienced cricketer is prescribed to rest for eight to ten weeks which means Tamim will end up missing the home series against Australia and New Zealand as well.
The visitors are also missing the vast experience of Mushfiqur Rahim in the middle-order. The team management might look to tinker with the playing eleven and provide an opportunity to others as the likes of Mohammad Mithun and Mosaddek Hossain failed to make an impact in both the games in the middle-order.
In the bowling department, left-arm seamer Mustafizur Rahman's participation in the third and final ODI is still in doubt as the pacer is still recovering from his ankle injury that he sustained during the warm-up game ahead of the Test series.