Venue: Sylhet International Cricket Stadium, Sylhet
Date: Wednesday, March 4, 2020
This will be the third match for Zimbabwe on this tour and neither of the first two contests has been even close to competitive.
The tour opened – after an exhibition game – with the only Test of the series in Mirpur. Zimbabwe won the toss and elected to bat first, putting up 265 runs in their first innings behind a score of 107 from Craig Ervine. This score was quickly obliterated by the hosts, with Bangladesh declaring on 560/6 after 150 rapid striking overs. Mushfiqur Rahim top-scored on an unbeaten 203. Zimbabwe then had to bat from behind, scoring just 189 – Ervine again top-scored with 43 – losing the match by an innings and 106 runs.
Any fan thinking that the ODI series might go a little differently would only have to look at the first match between the two teams in Sylhet to see that might not be the case. Bangladesh bat first, scoring 321 behind a 126 not-out from Liton Das. Bangladesh than managed to bowl out Zimbabwe in 39.1 overs on their reply, capping the tourists at 152 runs to win by 169 on the day. This match is at the same venue and it will be interesting to see if Zimbabwe can provide any more of resistance this time around.
It will be interesting to see if Das has recovered from his minor hamstring strain to again open the batting here. He retired hurt at the end of his innings to try to preserve himself for the second ODI, knowing he had done more than enough in the first contest to show he deserved the spot right at the top of the order. Expect to see another inspired performance from Mashrafe Mortaza as he plays what is likely to be his last international series. He had two wickets in the first ODI in front of a rapturous crowd.
Zimbabwe are simply underpowered at this level of the game. The team tries hard – and there are some individual players who are very talented – but the team as a whole just doesn’t have the strength or the depth to consistently compete with teams like Bangladesh. One player who remains interesting to watch is under-19 sensation Wesley Madhevere. He and Tinotenda Mutombodzi were the top scorers in the first ODI and they will have to again contribute with big scoring knocks if the tourists have any chance of an upset here. Chris Mpofu will also need to be accurate with the ball while picking up wickets at crucial times in the contest.
There is no value at all in Bangladesh at 0.14 with BetXChange but even at 4.50 it isn’t worth throwing money on a Zimbabwe team that has been dominated in two straight games on the subcontinent. Instead, look at markers like the top away batsman – Ervine at 3.50 is solid after how he played in the Test match – of the top home team batsman – Das sits at 3.00 if you trust his hamstring to be healed fully here – to find a better bet in a game that the hosts will win at a canter.