Afif, Anamul step up but Tigers still found wanting

Bangladesh batter Afif Hossain plays a shot. Photo: Firoz Ahmed

Slow scoring rate, lack of firepower and inability to convert fifties into centuries once again cost Bangladesh as the Tigers posted a below-par total in the final and third ODI against Zimbabwe at the Harare Sports Club today.    

Afif Hossain stepped up with useful boundaries in the death overs, scoring an unbeaten 81-ball 85, while Anamul Haque Bijoy continued his good run of form with a 71-ball 76 but the Tigers were still found wanting as they posted a below-par 256 for nine on a good batting wicket in Harare. 

Afif, despite losing batting partners almost at regular intervals, was able to come with some crucial blows late in the game to help Bangladesh's cause. The young left-hander, during his unbeaten knock, smashed a total of six boundaries and two maximums. 

Before Afif, it was Anamul who played the role of the aggressor. The right-hander did not shy away from using his feet, smashing a total of six boundaries and four sixes. He also starred in a 41-run opening stand with skipper Tamim Iqbal (19 off 30) and another crucial 77-run fourth-wicket stand with Mahmudullah Riyad that helped Bangladesh bounce back in the game after losing three wickets in quick succession inside the first Powerplay. 

However, Anamul, who was looking to be in tremendous touch, would be disappointed to have not converted his fifty into a century -- something that Bangladesh have not been able to do in this entire series. He departed by edging a Luke Jongwe delivery for an easy catch back to the wicketkeeper in the 25th over. 

Bangladesh have seen targets around the 300-run mark prove not enough in the first two ODIs, with skipper Tamim stating that his side were 15-20 runs short when they suffered a convincing defeat in the first ODI despite posting a 304-run target.  

This time, the slow scoring rate once again saw Bangladesh fall well short of a commanding total. And for that, fingers might be pointed towards Mahmudullah Riyad once again as the batter failed to accelerate following a slow start. 

Mahmudullah, who has recently been criticised for his slow scoring rate, has scored at a strike rate of just 56.52 -- lowest among the Bangladeshi batters who got to double figures today. Moreover, just when Bangladesh needed to ratchet up the run rate, Mahmudullah fell by dragging a Richard Ngarava delivery onto his stumps in the 35th over. His wicket ended a 49-run stand with Afif and also left the Tigers needing to rebuild from five for 173 with just about 15 overs left in the innings. 

After Mahmudullah's departure, Mehedi Hasan Miraz stitched a 33-run stand with Afif but the former's 24-ball 14, at a strike rate of just 58.33, was never enough to see the desired surge in the scoring rate in the death overs.