Zimbabwe are set to embark on a tour of Bangladesh later this month, in what will be a good test of where they stand at the moment across all three formats of world cricket.
The tour begins on the 22nd February with a one-off Test match. Three one-day internationals will follow between the two nations before the tour is wrapped up with two T20 matches. Zimbabwe will be hoping for a new beginning in 2020 following a tough couple of years on and off the field.
Zimbabwe were suspended by the ICC in 2019 due to government interference into the administration of cricket. Now that this ban is lifted Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) can concentrate on moving the team forward.
The last time Zimbabwe and Bangladesh met was back in September in the Obhai tri-nation T20 series which also involved Afghanistan. Bangladesh won both of their two matches against Zimbabwe, although the Chevrons did record victory over Afghanistan in that tournament.
The Chevrons looking to build upon Test performance against Sri Lanka
Zimbabwe were in action last month when they faced Sri Lanka in two Test matches in Asia. They were well beaten in the first Test, losing by 10 wickets In Harare.
The hosts won the toss in the second Test and opted to bat first; which was a wise move as they made 406 in the first innings. This put them in a great position to pick up their maiden Test success against Sri Lanka.
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After declaring on 247/7 in their second innings, Zimbabwe set Sri Lanka a target of 361. They were 204/3 when the match finished as a draw at the end of the fifth day.
Sikandar Raza proves to be a very valuable all-rounder
Sikandar Raza recorded 7-113 in the first innings of the second Test against Sri Lanka. That was the second-best figure ever by a Zimbabwean bowler in Test cricket. He will be hoping to take that form into Bangladesh where conditions should suit him again.
Brendan Taylor, Sean Williams, and Raza all looked in good form with the bat in that previous series. Their captain, Williams, picked up the second century of his Test career in the opening innings of the second Test.
It was a really impressive performance from Zimbabwe in the two Test series, as that was their first cricket over that format since November 2018. Not being part of the 10-team World Test Championship came as a big blow to the nation, but their aim now is to get themselves in a position to compete in the next tournament.
Bangladesh are ranked ninth of 12 in the World Test Rankings. Zimbabwe are a further two places down with just Ireland below them. Victory over the home side in this one-off Test will help them bridge the gap between the two nations.
The last time Zimbabwe faced Bangladesh abroad in a Test series was two years ago when they drew 1-1. They will be hoping they can go one better that this time around.
Bangladesh showed how dangerous they are in one-day cricket at World Cup
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Bangladesh were one of the surprise packages at the ICC World Cup last summer, as they had victories over South Africa, West Indies and Afghanistan. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they fell just short of qualification into the last four.
The hosts will be heavy favourites to win the one-day and T20 series against Zimbabwe. They are many people’s outside bets to win the rebranded ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia later this year where, as of 8th February, they are 66/1 with Betway in the outright market for that tournament.
Bangladesh recorded a victory over India in New Delhi in their first of three T20 fixtures back in November, which just shows how strong they are. They did go on to lose that series 2-1, however.
The Tigers will be looking to bounce back from their latest result as they lost 2-0 to Pakistan in a three-match T20 series last month. One of those games was abandoned without a ball being bowled.
In Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh have one of the leading opening batsmen in world cricket. He scored 104 runs in his two innings against Pakistan, but it wasn’t enough for his team to record a success in either of those matches.
Bangladesh will have their own aspirations in 2020. This is, therefore, a big tour for both nations as they look to edge the gap towards some of the more established countries in world cricket.