Bangladesh look to maintain their dominance over Zimbabwe despite Tamim Iqbal's absence
The opening T20I against Zimbabwe will be Bangladesh's first of potentially 16 matches in their lead-up to the T20 World Cup in October-November, including matches against Australia, New Zealand and England.
In the injury-enforced absence of Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh's batting line-up will bank on Mohammad Naim and Liton Das for fast starts. Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah will be in charge of the middle order and the team management will hope that at least one of them can bat deep to guide Afif Hossain, Nurul Hasan and Mahedi Hasan in the slog overs.
Bangladesh have the option of picking a four-member pace attack, with the two left-armers Shoriful Islam and Mustafizur Rahman bowling at specific phases. They also have Soumya Sarkar and Shamim Hossain among the back-up batters while left-arm spinner Nasum Ahmed and legspinner Aminul Islam add to the bowling options.
Zimbabwe were blanked 3-0 in the preceding ODI series, but they can take heart from their batting performance in the final ODI where the posted 298. Regis Chakabva has been in top form, having made a career-best 84 in the final ODI to back up his 54 in the first match. Wessley Madhevere has threatened big scores, while Ryan Burl and Sikandar Raza also made fifties in the third game.
Zimbabwe's bowling looked a bit of shape in the second and third ODIs, but they are capable of making an impact with the new ball. Blessing Muzarabani offers sharp pace and bounce, while Richard Ngarava, Donald Tiripano and Luke Jongwe have been among the wickets. Tendai Chatara, however, hasn't been as effective.
Bangladesh will look to attack the twin offspinners Madhevere and Raza, but that could potentially give the hosts an opportunity to strike.
(last five completed matches)
In the spotlight
Ryan Burl tuned up for the T20I series with a 43-ball 59 on Tuesday and will continue to be a threat for Bangladesh. Burl had latched onto anything sliding into middle stump, going on a boundary-hitting spree against Mohammad Saifuddin.
With two quickfire knocks in the ODI series, Afif Hossain is close to being considered as one of Bangladesh's big-hitting options in the middle order. His offspin is still a work in progress although he has slowly become a dependable fielder.
Shakib and Mahmudullah will beef up the middle order while Nurul Hasan has probably done enough to keep his No.6 spot in the T20Is too. Bangladesh could go with four pace bowlers if they pick Mahedi Hasan at No 7.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Mohammad Naim, 2 Liton Das (wk), 3 Shakib Al Hasan, 4 Mahmudullah (capt), 5 Afif Hossain, 6 Nurul Hasan, 7 Mahedi Hasan, 8 Mohammad Saifuddin, 9 Taskin Ahmed, 10 Shoriful Islam, 11 Mustafizur Rahman
Brendan Taylor has been rested for the T20I series ahead of the tours to Ireland and Scotland. In his absence, Sikandar Raza will captain the side for the three matches, with Tarisai Musakanda also finding a place in the squad.
Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Regis Chakabva (wk), 2 Tarisai Musakanda/Tinashe Kamunhukamwe, 3 Tadiwanashe Marumani, 4 Wessley Madhevere, 5 Dion Myers, 6 Sikandar Raza (capt), 7 Ryan Burl, 8 Donald Tiripano, 9 Luke Jongwe, 10 Blessing Muzarabani, 11 Richard Ngarava
Pitch and conditions
A mid-day start means bowlers might not get the kind of early-morning assistance they did in the ODIs. The weather remains dry in Harare.
Stats and trivia
- Taylor and Sarkar are 66 and 49 runs respectively away from 1000 T20I runs
- Bangladesh have won two out of the five T20I bilateral series between the two sides, with three of those drawn.