This is where the road to the World Cup starts for Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe’s tendency to be tepid at the beginning of cricket tours will have to be rooted out when they take on Bangladesh in the first match of a one day international tri-series that includes Sri Lanka.
The shock therapy of the numbing loss at the hands of a proficient South Africa in the historic four-day test completed inside two days will have to be a distant memory for players who may have been scarred by the experience.
A different format this is and Zimbabwe know that the next three months will have a significant bearing on a lot of the plans the board has for the game in the country.
Having brought in the celestial talents of former captain Brendan Taylor and strike bowler Kyle Jarvis to get the Chevrons to the main showpiece via the ICC Cricket World Cup Qualifier set for March, this will be the time to get form.
Taylor, who has laboured for command with the willow in tests, will hope for better fortune in the shorter format having starred for his former county side Nottinghamshire in clinching the one day Royal London Cup. He will look to draw inspiration from his last outing for Zimbabwe in ODIs when he cracked a defiant 138 from 110 balls against India at the 2015 World Cup.
The gradual, softly-softly approach, a characteristic of a tour by Zimbabwe where they tend to become competitive deeper in it just won’t work. Graeme Cremer and his men will need intensity right from the start, a test-run for how they will begin the competition proper when it kicks off in Zimbabwe on 2 March.
There are currently murmurs about the risk of drafting novices in Ryan Murray and Brandon Mavuta so close to the Qualifier. No reasons have been given for the exclusion of the likes of the prodigious Tarisai Musakanda (although his poor form on the domestic front makes it hard to argue against it) or stalwart Sean Williams. To make a judgement call of this nature so late in the game, the hope is that there is a plan of substance as there is very little time to keep chopping and changing.
For the journey to the World Cup begins now and every player in there must see themselves at Lords come May 2019.
Zimbabwe’s first match in the tri-series is on Monday 15 January 2018 and first ball hits the deck at 10.30am Central African Time.
For Bangladesh left-arm fast bowler Mustafizur Rahman returns to the side after missing out on Bangladesh’s last one-day series in South Africa with a twisted ankle.
Mustafizur was joined by batsmen Anamul Haque and Mohammad Mithun, paceman Abul Hasan and spinner Sunzamul Islam. Opening batsman Soumya Sarkar and paceman Taskin Ahmed have been dropped because of poor form.
Mushraf Mortaza will captain the side.