There will be an air of expectation and anticipation at Harare Sports Club when Zimbabwe take on Bangladesh in three T20Is starting Saturday.
So Zimbabwe have reason to believe. Four of their five main batters have strike rates between 126 and 150 in T20Is. Among them, Sikandar Raza has the best strike rate as well as the most runs, and the best innings score. The others – Wessly Madhevere, Sean Williams and Regis Chakabva – are in form too. Raza, the main allrounder in the team, also has recent experience playing the Bangladesh players, having taken part in both last season’s Bangladesh Premier League and Dhaka Premier League.
Bangladesh, meanwhile, have travelled without their four most experienced cricketers. Tamim Iqbal has retired from T20Is. Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah – who recently lost the captaincy, with Nurul Hasan taking charge – have been rested, while Shakib Al Hasan has taken a break. That’s 391 matches worth of experience gone.
Nurul, therefore, has a lot on his plate. A solid wicketkeeper who is known for his innovative batting, Nurul, however, hasn’t scored a lot of runs in T20Is recently. Overall, too, 271 runs from 33 T20Is at an average of 12.90 and strike rate of 111.98 shouldn’t strike fear in opposition hearts.
Mustafizur Rahman, Taskin Ahmed and Shoriful Islam are the main quicks, while Nasum Ahmed should do well too. Bangladesh will also have to find the right time to use Mahedi Hasan and Mosaddek Hossain, while the returning Hasan Mahmud and Mehidy Hasan Miraz will have chances coming their way too.
(Last five completed matches; most recent first)
In the spotlight
Zimbabwe are likely to be unchanged for the first game on Saturday, sticking with the XI that beat Netherlands in the final.
Zimbabwe (probable): 1 Regis Chakabva (wk), 2 Craig Ervine (capt), 3 Sean Williams, 4 Wessly Madhevere, 5 Sikandar Raza, 6 Milton Shumba, 7 Ryan Burl, 8 Tony Munyonga, 9 Luke Jongwe, 10 Wellington Masakadza, 11 Richard Ngarava
Bangladesh have to rebuild their batting in the absence of the seniors. They have Shanto, Shahriar and Emon as options, but none of them are middle-order batters.
Bangladesh (probable): 1 Litton Das, 2 Parvez Hossain Emon, 3 Anamul Haque, 4 Najmul Hossain Shanto, 5 Afif Hossain, 6 Nurul Hasan (wk), 7 Mosaddek Hossain, 8 Mahedi Hasan, 9 Shoriful Islam, 10 Mustafizur Rahman, 11 Nasum Ahmed
Pitch and conditions
In the last 12 months, sides batting first have averaged 160 at Harare Sports Club. Three out of six teams have won batting first. The weather on Saturday is likely to be fair and dry.
Stats and trivia
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84