Batting fallacy cost Tigers
Four run outs punctuated with a number of ill-conceived shots made Bangladesh pay heavily as the hosts fell to Zimbabwe by nine runs yesterday in the first game of their five-match one-day series.
After the visitors put up a 210-run target on the predominantly batsman-friendly Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium track, the Tigers defied expectations the only way they could -- a batting calamity -- as they folded for 200 runs in 49 overs. Interestingly, it was for the fourth successive occasion Bangladesh have conceded a series opener against Zimbabwe.
The loss will bring the high-flying Tigers back down to earth after a series whitewash over New Zealand had seen them come into this match with a bullish attitude. Yesterday, however, the team was a shadow of their former imperious selves as they self-destructed in critical situations.
The final wicket of Shafiul Islam summed up the mood of the day, the batsmen not even crossing each other when Brendan Taylor's throw came in from short mid-wicket. Christopher Mpofu, man-of-the-match for his three for 25, happily whipped off the bails with the No 11 stranded far away.
Two overs prior to the final wicket, captain Shakib Al Hasan was still holding the Bangladesh innings together with some intelligent batting, even as wickets fell throughout his 65-ball knock. The left-hander made 63 in quick time through eight boundaries using his favourite square-cut and full-blooded sweep to full effect.
He reached his 16th ODI half-century during his seventh wicket stand with Mahmudullah Riyad which had the makings of a match-winning one. But Riyad's attempted loft did not clear long-on and Chamu Chibhabha completed a simple catch, ending the partnership after just 44 runs, and reducing the Tigers to 167-7 in the 43rd over.
Riyad's dimissal was the seventh nail in the coffin but the earlier ones, those of Tamim Iqbal, Junaed Siddiqui, Mushfiqur Rahim, Mohammad Ashraful and to some extent Sohrawardi Shuvo, massively helped the Zimbabwean cause.
One can easily call Tamim's leg-before decision a mistake; the Mpofu delivery landing outside leg-stump. The left-hander, who was making a comeback after five months, was just opening up his repertoire before umpire Enamul Haque's raised left-hand ended his knock of 23. After Imrul Kayes holed out to deep mid-wicket off Ray Price, out came Ashraful, immediately picking up a boundary.
But the fading star of Bangladesh cricket, who was involved in Junaed's run-out and dropped a catch earlier, was consistent with his fondness for bizarre shots. Ashraful's attempted late-cut when Prosper Utseya's delivery turned in was a cardinal sin against an off-spinner, the Tigers falling to 89-4 from 82-2.
That soon became 115-6 when Sohrawardi Shuvo became the second run-out casualty, a similar fate that befell Mashrafe and Shafiul.
Ultimately Shakib's botched scoop off Mpofu in the 48th over was the final nail as it ended all hopes of a 1-0 lead. The skipper became the ninth wicket to fall with Keegan Meth gulping down a simple chance at short fine-leg.
Earlier, Zimbabwe, apart from a good opening stand and bright knocks from newcomers Regis Chakabva (45) and Craig Ervine (41), were always chasing the game as the spinners had full control of proceedings.
Abdur Razzak picked up the first three wickets, first of which (Chibhabha) became the 150th in his ODI career, and the wicket of Keith Dabengwa to finish with figures of four for 41. Shuvo and Riyad took two each and Shakib took one.
"It is a big positive, a boost for the moral of the team. It will give the team confidence for the next match where we
will do even better," said Zimbabwe skipper Elton Chigumbura in the post-match press conference.
Mpofu, who made Riyad his 50th wicket in ODIs, was also pleased with his performance in tough conditions for pacemen. "I'm feeling really good to pick up the man-of-the-match in a spinner-friendly wicket. I really enjoyed it," said the 25-year old seamer.
The second one-dayer will be played at the same venue tomorrow, the Tigers trying not to repeat the same fate and the fans hoping the Tigers have a hand in their change of fortune.