DHAKA: Bangladesh are set to play a three-match ODI series against hosts Zimbabwe in November before the two sides enter the biobubble for the 10-team women’s ODI World Cup Qualifier to be played in the African nation. The bilateral series will be Bangladesh’s first international assignment since the T20 World Cup held in Australia in February-March last year. “The Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) and Zimbabwe Cricket have had talks regarding this series and it was decided our women’s team will be play three ODIs against Zimbabwe ahead of the World Cup Qualifier,” Shafiul Alam Chowdhury Nadel, the head of BCB’s women cricket wing said Thursday. “We have stuck to just the ODI matches for the bilateral series because the qualifier are in the one-day format and it will serve as an important preparatory exercise for our team in terms of getting match time before the qualifier.” Since the 2020 T20 World Cup, where Bangladesh were eliminated in the league stage, the only top-flight competitive cricket the players took part in was in April, when the South Africa Emerging side had toured Sylhet for a five-game one-day series. The fifth match, however, was cancelled “to accommodate the visiting side’s return home before the suspension of international flight operations” following a Covid-19-induced lockdown in Bangladesh,” a BCB release said at the time. Asked about Bangladesh’s protracted time away from international cricket, stretching to 18 months at present, Nadel said: “We had been trying to organise tours for Bangladesh Women for a long time, but our plans didn’t come off. The coronavirus pandemic was a reason but we came across hurdles arising from issues related to sports and social-cultural perceptions that exist in the subcontinent – I won’t name the countries but we didn’t agree to conduct tours with a few of them because of this reason. Unfortunately, roadblocks continue to exist around women’s sport, related to prevailing gender inequality, even though we continue to work to eradicate them. The investment required to create a biobubble is significant for a women’s team; we often don’t get that from our sponsors. Sponsors and investors expect mileage out of every series they invest in, and against that backdrop, that doesn’t seem to be possible now (with the women’s side), so the matches against Zimbabwe is all we have been able to finalise.” The qualifying event, delayed twice due to the pandemic, runs from November 21 to December 5, with Bangladesh, who last played an ODI series in November 2019, expected to depart for Zimbabwe on November 4 or 5. To get preparations for the tour of Zimbabwe underway, the BCB recently organised a skills-and-fitness camp at BKSP Ground in Savar for 60 women cricketers, the board’s 22 centrally contracted players included. The camp began on August 14, ran in two phases, and ended with a four-team, 50-over tournament. The three qualifiers for the 2022 ODI World Cup as well as the next two teams will book places in the next ICC Women’s Championship along with the top five from last time, as the ICC increased the number of teams in the third cycle of the IWC from eight to 10. Bangladesh, currently ranked eighth in the ODI team rankings, were not part of the previous IWC cycles. In T20I rankings, they hold the No. 9 position.