Mashrafe hints at spin-based attack
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza has stressed on the importance of starting well in the three-match one-day series against Zimbabwe. Mashrafe also said that Bangladesh had found ways to build partnerships even after losing wickets in the last 12 months.
"I think all the fans will be expecting [a whitewash] but we the cricketers shouldn't be doing that," Mashrafe said. "The first match is going to be important, like it is in every series. In the last Zimbabwe series, we lost four early wickets in the first ODI. In our first match of the World Cup, we were 4 for 119 against Afghanistan. On both occasions Shakib and Mushfiq put together partnerships. People are most tensed in the first match and once it is over, the task becomes easier. At this moment the first match is significant to us."
Bangladesh's ODI resurgence began with a 5-0 win against Zimbabwe in 2014, and it gained a massive boost when they beat Afghanistan in their World Cup opener earlier this year. Bangladesh have form on their side after having won the last four ODI home series in a row. Their combination, though, oscillates between playing eight batsmen and three specialist bowlers and seven batsmen and four specialist bowlers. In the absence of Taskin Ahmed and Rubel Hossain, coupled with Mashrafe's own fitness worries, Bangladesh are likely to fit in a three-man pace attack, taking out one of the top-order batsmen. If they go ahead with the two pace bowlers in Mashrafe and Mustafizur Rahman, they will look to Nasir Hossain to bowl ten overs.
Pace has reaped reward for Bangladesh this year but spin has always worked well against Zimbabwe in these conditions, and Mashrafe has hinted that Bangladesh will go in with a spin-based attack.
"We have to make the team thinking of the opposition's weakness, as well as our strength," Mashrafe said. "I like to combine these two factors. Our main goal is definitely to win but I feel right now it will be their weakness that will get more preference. The wicket is also a factor. We will also not like to play away from our strength."
Mashrafe conceded that the team will miss Soumya Sarkar, who was ruled out on Thursday with a side strain, but his absence will open up chances for the likes of Imrul Kayes and Liton Das to make contributions in the top order.
"The whole team will miss Soumya, who is not just a good cricketer but also a fine team-mate," Mashrafe said. "He is a thrilling player, having made 80-odd in our last ODI. It isn't great news that we are missing him. But Liton and Imrul now have the chance to do well."