Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Teams look to sort out top-order woes

After the high of the first match, things have gone spectacularly downhill for Zimbabwe. They can't get much worse than in the fourth ODI, where they were rolled over for 44, one of the lowest-ever ODI scores. That was only the most glaring of the collapses - Zimbabwe's top order has been abysmal all through the series and even their victory in the first game came after a slew of early wickets. The trouble is that their key batsmen - Charles Coventry, Brendan Taylor and Tatenda Taibu - have all misfired, leaving the lower order too much to do.

Bangladesh's top-order hasn't been in top gear either but that crack has been papered over by the home side's spin attack, which has kept Zimbabwe to modest scores in each of the three previous matches.

Shakib Al Hasan had already shown how ambitious this Bangladesh side is by stating that they were aiming for a 4-1 victory immediately after the opening match defeat. His team have lifted their game enough to seal the series, and one more solid performance will make them achieve their captain's goal of a lopsided series win.

A victory in the dead rubber will bring some respectability to the margin of Zimbabwe's defeat but, on the evidence of this series, their goal of making a return to Tests remains a distant dream.

Form Guide (most recent first)
Bangladesh - WW WLW
Zimbabwe - LLLWW
Watch Out For
Tamim Iqbal is already the highest run-getter in the series, repeating a feat he achieved when Bangladesh toured Zimbabwe a few months ago. Two consecutive run-filled series will give the opener the confidence he needs to bolster a fragile Bangladesh top order.
Ray Price is among the few bright spots in a poor campaign for Zimbabwe. He has managed to keep the runs in check, but his batsmen haven't provided him with big enough totals to get a result for Zimbabwe.

The track for the final ODI is expected to have a bit more bounce and pace than the one that was served up on Tuesday. That means quick bowler Shahadat Hossain could get a game ahead of one of the spinners. It's also a big game for opener Junaid Siddique, who has flopped in every match this series, putting his place in jeopardy.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Tamim Iqbal, 2 Junaid Siddique, 3 Mohammad Ashraful, 4 Raqibul Hasan, 5 Shakib Al Hasan (capt), 6 Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), 7 Mahmudullah, 8 Naeem Islam/Shahadat Hossain, 9 Enamul Haque jnr, 10 Abdur Razzak, 11 Nazmul Hossain

With Tatenda Taibu and Prosper Utseya injured, Zimbabwe have only 13 fit players available. Either Forster Mutizwa or Mark Vermuelen will fill in the space created by Taibu's absence. Fast bowler Chris Mpofu hasn't got a game this series, and might be picked ahead of the expensive Kyle Jarvis.

Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Hamilton Masakadza (capt), 2 Chamu Chibhabha, 3 Brendan Taylor (wk), 4 Forster Mutizwa/Mark Vermeulen, 5 Charles Coventry, 6 Stuart Matsikenyeri, 7 Elton Chigumbura, 8 Malcolm Waller, 9 Graeme Cremer, 10 Ray Price, 11 Kyle Jarvis

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