Zimbabwe upbeat despite recent shabby record
Hamilton Masakadza. (Getty Image)

Zimbabwe will seek a change in fortunes when they take on Bangladesh in the first of the three ODIs on Sunday. Coming off 0-5 whitewashes against Pakistan and South Africa, skipper Hamilton Masakadza is aware of the threat Bangladesh possess. Moreover, Zimbabwe also lost the one-off practice match against the BCB XI by eight wickets. But come match day, Masakadza believes the team can put the string of disappointments behind them a start afresh.

“We didn’t have a great time in South Africa and in the match yesterday. We are focused on tomorrow and on what we can achieve on this tour. We can only go up from here. The guys are really looking forward to it. They are really upbeat,” Masakadza told reporters ahead of the series.

“Zimbabwe has played here and against Bangladesh often. We are a little bit more familiar with them and the conditions. We stand a very good chance as a team, especially when compared to playing against other international teams. I think it will be a very competitive series.”

Zimbabwe will be buoyed by the return of Sikandar Raza, who missed the series against South Africa after being excluded from the squad over contractual issues. But him being back in the side promises to strengthen Zimbabwe’s fragile batting. Even Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza realised the presence of a few key players up Zimbabwe’s ranks.

“The coaching staff has changed but not much has changed within the players’ group itself. All the guys are available this time around. It is a big advantage for the team to have everyone around,” said Masakadza. “Having everyone around is a big plus for the team. Apart from Graeme [Cremer] who is still injured, we have everyone around, which is a positive for the team.”

One of the key elements Zimbabwe will be focussing on are the ways to tackle Bangladesh’s spinners. Offspinners Mehidy Hasan and Mahmudullah have played a crucial role in their domination at home, troubling the best of the batsmen. But Masakadza believes his batsmen are ready to take on Bangladesh’s spinners.

“It is obviously one of the things you focus on when you play in the sub-continent. Spin plays a very big role. We have prepared for it. It is in the back of our minds,” he said. “I have actually played against [Mehidy] quite a few times. We have also watched a lot of him. We definitely know what to expect from him. The main thing is to stay positive and back ourselves. We also have to deal with the challenge of spin. We can go forward from there.

“I think Bangladesh have improved a lot in the last few years, especially at home. We have played against them quite often, so we still have a very good chance. So in terms of the favourites tag, I would still put it on Zimbabwe.”