Afif blitz leads Tigers to win
Sections of the stands at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur were already empty when Bangladesh were reeling at 60 for six inside ten overs in their chase of 145 against Zimbabwe in the tri-nation T20I series opener yesterday.
But they were surely cursing themselves on the way home as they missed a magnificent batting display from the young Afif Hossain and Mosaddek Hossain, who turned the game around dramatically as the Tigers clinched a three-wicket win.
It was 19-year-old Afif who went all-guns-blazing in the high-pressure situation, launching a blistering counterattack against a high-flying Zimbabwe bowling attack. He registered his maiden T20I fifty in just his second game after failing on his debut against Sri Lanka last year when he was dismissed for a duck.
Afif and Mosaddek added a match-winning 82-run seventh-wicket stand before the left-hander was dismissed just three runs shy of the target after scoring a 26-ball 52.
Mosaddek remained unbeaten on a 24-ball 30 which featured two sixes as Bangladesh returned to winning ways following a humiliating defeat in the one-off Test against Afghanistan earlier this month.
Bangladesh were in a world of trouble in their chase as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals.
Despite a confident start, Liton Das was first to depart. Although he tried to make some room, he was bowled by a brilliant yorker from pacer Tendai Chatara for 19.
Kyle Jarvis then removed both Soumya Sarkar and Mushfiqur Rahim in the same over. To make matters worse, skipper Shakib Al Hasan fell for just one run in the next over when he edged to a slip fielder to become Chatara’s second victim.
Mahmudullah Riyad tried to initiate a rescue mission but could only score 14 before he was given leg-before and burnt a review off the bowling of leg-spinner Ryan Burl.
Burl had a great outing and, after a blistering fifty, he took a magnificent catch flying towards his left at deep midwicket to get rid of Sabbir Rahman.
Before the exchange, a sensational burst of boundaries from Burl had rescued Zimbabwe and lifted them to a position of strength after Bangladesh won the toss and asked the visitors to bat.
After being reduced to 63 for five, Zimbabwe scored 63 runs off the last four overs -- with Burl hitting 30 off the 16th over from Shakib -- to reach 144 for five in the reduced 18-overs-a-side match. The reduction in overs was due to the start being delayed by 90 minutes owing to a wet outfield.
After the first 10 overs, Bangladesh were dominating proceedings as the top half of the Zimbabwe batting line-up surrendered meekly.
Debutant Taijul Islam got a wicket off his very first ball in T20I cricket, getting opener Brendan Taylor caught at third man in the second over.
A 44-run second-wicket stand between skipper Hamilton Masakadza and Craig Ervine gave little clue of what was to follow, and it all started with the latter holing out off pacer Mustafizur Rahman to leave the score on 51 for two.
Part-time off-spinner Mosaddek Hossain and pacer Mohammad Saifuddin then took a wicket each and the run out of Timycen Maruma reduced Zimbabwe to 63 for five in the 10th over.
Burl and Tinotenda Mutombodzi then dug in and rebuilt, before the former unleashed three sixes and three fours off Shakib to take the sting out of the Tigers.
The display of power seemed to have caused a power failure as, an over later, the floodlights went out, causing a five-minute delay. Upon resumption, the pair remained unbeaten and took the visitors to a score that seemed unlikely an hour before.