Four questions for the tri-series

Four questions for the tri-series

With their most recent outing being the disastrous tour of South Africa in September-October 2017, when they handsomely lost all seven matches across formats, there will be more than a few flaws to correct for the home team when they kick off their tri-series campaign today by taking on Zimbabwe in the opener at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur from 12:00pm today. The following are a few things to watch out for during the series.

Can Fizz lead the pacers out of the doldrums?

The Bangladesh team conceded 1,004 runs in three ODIs in South Africa while taking just 12 wickets -- an average of 84 runs per wicket at just over seven runs an over. Needless to say, a repeat of such toothless and profligate bowling will not bode well for Bangladesh. To that end the coaching staff and technical director have been working hard with the bowlers in the training camp that began on December 27.

They have one big hope in the returning Mustafizur Rahman, who was ruled out on the eve of the South Africa ODI series with a twisted ankle. That is not to say that Mustafizur's presence would have made a big difference in South Africa as he averages a none-too-impressive 30. 55 in away conditions, but the numbers strongly indicate that his presence at home is a substantial one.

Back in 2015, he was the spark that ignited Bangladesh's ODI rise and his home record is a fantastic 26 wickets from nine matches at an astonishing average of 12. 34. His brand of beguiling cutters are especially suited to the grip offered by the Mirpur wicket, and how he starts today will be integral to Bangladesh's search for their first triangular trophy.

Will the number three puzzle finally be solved?

Since the start of 2015, there have been seven batsmen tried at the pivotal number three position in ODIs and the best average among them was the discarded Soumya Sarkar and vice-captain Shakib Al Hasan's 29, the latter playing just one match in the position in the first ODI against South Africa in Kimberley last year. Technical director Khaled Mahmud yesterday informed that Shakib will be the one tried in that spot today and, judging by his statement that the team management wants a regular number three, for the rest of this series.

Shakib is as good a choice as any, given his ability to read the game and take it by the scruff of the neck. With a rich 2017 with the bat, Shakib is well placed to solve the puzzle for the time being, but it will be important for him to hit the ground running today.

Will Riyad get the time his talent warrants?

Mahmudullah Riyad is the man for every position. He has batted as low as number eight in the order and as high as number three, where he hit his two successive World Cup tons in the 2015 event in Australia-New Zealand. In South Africa, he batted at number five in the first match, but was demoted to number six for the next two. Mahmud has recently said that the batsman has been underutilised lower down the order and said that he will likely bat at number five today. Like Shakib, if Mahmudullah can make this spot his own it will make for a more stable batting lineup.

Can Anamul step up?

Having hit a rich vein of form in domestic cricket, Anamul Haque has been recalled to the national squad at what could be the perfect time for the right-handed opener to make a comeback. Soumya Sarkar seems to have been deemed a failed experiment for the time being, and with Imrul Kayes yet to recover from a thumb injury, Anamul will now open with Tamim Iqbal. With the two left-handed openers named above not really making the number two position their own despite repeated chances, a left-right opening partnership with Tamim-Anamul may not be the worst thing.

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SKorea, NKorea to hold working-level talks Jan 15

SKorea, NKorea to hold working-level talks Jan 15

North Korea and South Korea have agreed to hold working-level talks at the Tongil Pavilion on the North Korean side of the truce village of Panmunjom on Jan 15, South Korea’s unification ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

The delegation, to be led by an official from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, will be sent to hold talks on the prospects of North Korea sending its performance art group to the Winter Olympics in South Korea, the unification ministry said in a statement.

Inter-Korean talks are held alternately at the Peace House, which is on the South Korean side of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone, and Tongil Pavilion in the North.

The ministry said earlier on Saturday that North Korea had proposed holding talks on Jan 15 about the matter.

In addition, the ministry also requested for a quick response for South Korea’s proposal on Jan 12 to have working-level talks about the North’s participation in Pyongchang winter Olympics,” added the ministry.

Officials from North and South earlier this week said they had agreed to hold negotiations to resolve problems and avert accidental conflict, after their first official dialogue in more than two years amid high tension over the North’s weapons programme.

South Korea had also said that it is seeking to form a combined women’s hockey team with the North. The North Korea’s International Olympics Committee (IOC) official said the committee is considering the proposal, while the two sides will also have talks hosted by IOC on Jan 20.

In a joint statement after 11 hours of talks on Tuesday, North and South Korea said they had agreed to hold military to military talks and that North Korea would send a large delegation to next month’s Winter Olympics.

Washington welcomed as a first step to solving the North Korean nuclear weapons crisis, even though Pyongyang said those were aimed only at the United States and not up for discussion.

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MML has illegally sold Rs 5000 crore worth iron ore: Kumaraswamy

JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy, file photo

JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy, file photo

JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy on Saturday charged that the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government had indulged in rampant illegal mining activities with more than Rs 5,000 crore worth iron ore being illegally lifted and transported by the state owned Mysore Minerals Ltd (MML) between 2014 and

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