Zimbabwe were clean swept 3-0 in ODIs and 2-0 in T20Is by South Africa most recently, whereas Bangladesh made the final of the Asia Cup which they lost to India in a tight encounter. The hosts will be taking on Zimbabwe without the services of Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, but that’s not the only thing which is making Rhodes wary of their opponent.
“Zimbabwe got a beating in South Africa. No team likes that. I expect a wounded animal. They will be fighting for their (pride) and I expect tough opposition,” Rhodes said. “They may turn it on against us after the kickback from South Africa. We are very guarded but we are also very determined to try and play our best cricket. We know we are two players light. Our process will be to make sure that we do our duty well.”
Rhodes then spoke about who he feels are the players who can step up, in the absence of Shakib and Tamim.
“Apu (Nazmul Islam) is a quality spin bowler and he has shown that in the shortest format and we know that he can do well in the ODI format. If Apu plays, we have two quality spinners. Riyad (Mahmudullah) is a far better bowler than people think. Fazle (Mahmud), if he plays, can also bowl some overs.
“Shakib is an unbelievably talented spinner, batsman, fielder and tactician and he can't be replaced. We have to make up in other areas in the team. There will be a bit more responsibility on Mehidy (Hasan). If those guys grab their chance, it would show we have depth in our squad. If there is competition for places, people will always try to perform at their best. It is a healthy thing. We want depth.”
Lastly, Rhodes spoke about the possibility of captain Mashrafe Mortaza missing out with a small niggle, and the contingency plan in place if that were to happen.
“We think Saifuddin is a very good all-rounder. He has the ability to perform at the highest level. He has had a taste of international cricket. He has gone away and came back into the team. We expect him to be more mature. Mashrafe has had his injuries. He picked up an injury recently. We need to think about keeping someone ready as his replacement. We want to give Saifuddin some cricket so that he can be prepared. I like his approach and attitude and he looks stronger.”
First Published: October 19, 2018, 1:55 PM IST