BY DANIEL NHAKANISO
ZIMBABWE will be aiming to finish what has been a disappointing home tour against Bangladesh on a high when they take on the visiting Bangladesh side in the series-deciding third T20I at Harare Sports Club today.
The hosts salvaged some lost pride when a young team led by experienced all-rounder Sikandar Raza kept the three-match T20I series alive by winning the second encounter by 23 runs on Friday after bowling out the visitors for 143 runs, having earlier set a competitive score of 166.
Pacer Blessing Muzarabani got early breakthroughs and the effort was complemented by left-arm spinner Wellington Masakadza, who removed the experienced Mahmudullah and Shakib al Hasan from the chase.
With the bat, Wessley Madhevere lifted the team above par total in the format, scoring 73 off 57 balls, while Ryan Burl along with Dion Myers made crucial contributions, scoring unbeaten 34 and 26 runs respectively.
The win was Zimbabwe’s first in five matches across all formats this month after defeats in the lone Test match and the ODI series against the hosts.
Boosted by Friday’s victory, stand-in captain Raza is confident that his charges will get the job done in the series decider, although Bangladesh will start the encounter as favourites.
The 35-year-old experienced batting all-rounder, who recently made a return to the side after a lengthy lay-off due to health issues, is however relishing the opportunity to win some silverware at home.
“It is nice to win a trophy. Bangladesh have won trophies in two formats, so it will be nice to keep one in Harare. Some people would say it is another game, but it is the final. Champions are made in the big games. We will also treat it like a final,” Raza said, when asked about the importance of the third T20I
Raza is leading a side that’s without Brendan Taylor, Craig Ervine and Sean Williams — three of the most experienced cricketers in the Zimbabwe set-up.
Taylor has been rested while the duo of Williams and Ervine have been sidelined for the entire series due to Covid-19-related issues.
Despite the absence of their experienced stalwarts, Zimbabwe can take encouragement from the fact that they have run the superior opposition close on occasions in the month-long bilateral series.
The major disappointment is that they have not been able to convert good starts with both bat and ball, easily surrendering winning positions on several occasions during the tour.
After finally exorcising their demons on Friday, they will be hoping to put on another solid all-round team effort in search of what would be a morale-boosting T20I series win.
Zimbabwe (probable): Regis Chakabva (wk), Tadiwanashe Marumani, Wessley Madhevere, Dion Myers, Sikandar Raza (capt), Milton Shumba, Ryan Burl, Donald Tiripano, Luke Jongwe, Blessing Muzarabani, Tendai Chatara