The Zimbabwe players, buoyed by a surprise victory over Pakistan, had a long huddle with coach Dave Houghton ahead of a training session on the eve of their ICC T20 World Cup game against Bangladesh.
The former Zimbabwe captain reiterated to his wards the need to play positive and fearless cricket and make the most of the opportunity that has come the team’s way because of the historic win.
Craig Ervine’s men had beaten Bangladesh in both ODIs and T20Is in July this year and a win here would keep alive Zimbabwe’s hopes of making it to its first World Cup semifinal.
It has been a tournament of contrasting fortunes for the two teams – Zimbabwe is still unbeaten, whereas Bangladesh won against Netherlands but suffered a humiliating 104-run defeat to South Africa in the previous game.
Sikandar Raza has been the batting mainstay for Zimbabwe, and the team’s bowling and fielding effort to defend a lowly 130 against a strong Pakistan will give Ervine plenty of confidence ahead of this encounter.
Seamer Brad Evans, in his first game of the tournament, defended 10 runs in the last over, even after conceding seven off the first two deliveries. A single later and with three needed from as many balls, Evans got the better of hard-hitting left-hander Mohammad Nawaz, who failed to get bat on ball in the fourth delivery and was caught off the fifth. With three required from the last ball, Shaheen Afridi was run out; Zimbabwe holding on for a nerve-wracking win despite a fumble from stumper Regis Chakabva.
Statistics suggest that teams batting first have won four out of the six T20Is in Brisbane and winning the toss will be on the minds of both skippers. Bangladesh would like to see captain Shakib Al Hasan strike form. While Shakib has three T20I half-centuries this year, he has failed to go past single-digit scores in the two World Cup games and has conceded 65 runs in seven overs.
While Taskin Ahmed claimed four wickets against the Netherlands, and Hasan Mahmud picked a brace, the new ball bowlers went for plenty against the Proteas – Taskin (15.33) and Mahmud’s (10.67) economy rates severely dented.
Bangladesh’s batting department, too, has blown hot and cold in the tournament. With the captain failing to fire, the top-order was struggling at 47 for four inside the first PowerPlay against South Africa.
Bangladesh has won just one of its last five T20 fixtures, whereas for Zimbabwe, it has been four wins and a defeat. But in T20s, statistics seldom matter and the two sides, with plenty to play for, will look to offer the cricket fans a scintillating contest and add more spice to an already intriguing Super-12 phase.