International cricket will return to Bangladesh after eight months when the hosts take on Zimbabwe in the first of three-match one-day international series in Mirpur today.
The match, which will start at 2:30pm, will be televised live by GTV and Bangladesh Television.
Bangladesh, who last played an ODI at home in January, would start the series as clear favourites, having won their last 13 matches against Zimbabwe at home.
The Tigers lost an ODI to Zimbabwe at home lastly in 2010, but the long unbeaten streak did not guarantee them any success, said skipper Mashrafee bin Murtaza.
‘It’s not that we have never lost to Zimbabwe,’ Mashrafee said at a press conference on Saturday. ‘If we win [in this series] everyone will say this is what should have happened. But if we lose they will take it differently and that is natural. Back of the mind it can create pressure.’
While Zimbabwe posed no particular threat for Bangladesh, Mashrafee said they still had some usual challenges which are associated with any international game.
‘Everyone expects us to win the series, which is very natural. But I think for us the way we played against other teams, in the Asia Cup, the challenge would be same,’ he said.
‘Almost all of their senior players have returned. And outside Zimbabwe they have the best record in Bangladesh. So we have to give 100 per cent.
‘If someone scores a hundred it will be counted as a hundred. If someone gets five-wickets it will be treated in the same way. These things are difficult against any opposition,’ said Mashrafee.
With World Cup just few months away, Mashrafee believed the series had an added significance.
‘The series is important for us. That is because we have only four series left to get prepared for the World Cup. Good to see that they have come with full-strength team,’ he said.
Before coming to Bangladesh, Zimbabwe took a beating in South Africa, where they lost every game.
An eight-wicket loss in Friday’s warm-up match against Bangladesh Cricket Board XI also did not boost their morale.
Skipper Hamilton Masakadza said they have nothing to lose in the series.
‘We didn’t have a great time in South Africa and the match yesterday [Friday]. But the main thing is to focus on tomorrow
[today] and to focus on the tour in where what we come to achieve… we can only go up from where we are and we are really looking forward to it and the guys are upbeat,’ said Masakadza.
The second and third ODIs will take place on October 24 and 26 in Chattogram.
Zimbabwe and Bangladesh will then play two Tests, the first in the northeast city of Sylhet starting November 3, and the second in Dhaka starting November 11.
Source: New Age.