THE Zimbabwe cricket team will be looking to level the series when they face hosts Bangladesh in the second of the four-match T20 series at Khulna’s Sheik Abu Naser Stadium this morning.
The Bangladeshi Tigers ranked 10th on the ICC T20 rankings, four places above the visitors in 14th, took a 1-0 series lead on Friday with a nervy four wicket victory at the same venue, thanks largely to a late cameo by Shakib Al Hasan, a quickfire 20 in 13 balls when the match was delicately poised for a nail-biter ending.
Zimbabwe on the other hand — who had won the toss and elected to bat first — betrayed the work done by the opening partnership of the returning senior batsman Vusimuzi Sibanda (46) and Hamilton Masakadza (79) who put up a record 101 run stand.
Having reached 150 for three and looking set to post a huge 180-plus total, the Dav Whatmore-coached charges experienced a trademark middle order collapse and in the end set a relatively gettable target of 164 for the vastly improved hosts.
The bowling department led by left arm Brian Vitori failed to stem the flow of runs as Bangladesh kept the run rate within range apart from a late wobble in which they lost Sabir Rahman, Mishfuqur Rahim and Mohamad Mahmudullah in quick succession.
Whatmore, who is working with newly-acquired batting consultant Marvan Atapattu, is likely to retain faith in the batting lineup that also has the likes of Peter Moor, Malcom Waller, Sean Williams, Sikandar Raza and captain Elton Chigumbura.
A lot will be expected from the bowling department where Vitori, Luke Jongwe, Greame Cremer, Williams and company failed to defend a descent total.
Zimbabwe, who are smarting from a 2-0 T20 series loss to Afghanistan last week in the United Arab Emirates, are engaging Bangladesh in preparation for the T20 World Cup, which kicks off in March in India.
The third match is pencilled for Wednesday this week while the final encounter is slated for Friday.