Zimbabwe finally tasted success in the 4-match T20I series when they came out in front by 31 runs in the third game with a professional display with the ball under the lights at Khulna.
Graeme Cremer was the pick of the bowlers. His three wickets for 18 runs in four overs sealed Tigers’ fate.
He was ably supported by Sikandar Raza who took two crucial wickets for seven runs in two overs.
|Bangladesh v Zimbabwe|
|Bangladesh: 156/6 (20/20 over)|
|Zimbabwe: 187/6 (20.0/20 over)|
For Bangladesh, Sabbir top-scored with 50 runs. Nurul Hasan was unbeaten on 30, and tried to reduce the margin of defeat with some boundaries late in the innings.
The victory allowed the visitors to avoid a whitewash, and gives them a chance to level the series when the sides lock horns on January 22 for the last game of the T20I series.
Three balls after Shakib went back to the pavilion, Mahmudullah lost his cool and threw away his wicket in frustration.
The batsman scored six, and with his departure, the target looks like a bridge too far for the Bangladeshis.
Bangladesh looked in real trouble after the 15th over, when their top allrounder Shakib Al Hasan failed to fire with the bat.
Shakib struck the short ball from Cremer, but lacked power to clear the fielder at long-on. He fell for three.
Sikandar Raza made further inroads into Bangladesh’s inexperienced batting line up when he got his second wicket in the 14th over.
He clean bowled Mosaddek Hossain for 15, and sent the alarm bells ringing inside Bangladesh’s dressing room.
Zimbabwe came right back into the match when they snared the big wicket of Sabbir Rahman in the 12th over.
Sabbir pulled a half-tracker from Sikandar Raza to Muzurabani at deep square leg who took a tumbling catch to the relief of the bowler. He looked in great touch, smashed 50 from 32 balls with nine fours to his name.
Sabbir was responsible for the breezy 2nd wicket partnership that yielded 67 runs.
Zimbabwe picked up their second wicket of the match in the eighth over when Graeme Cremer sent back Soumya Sarkar.
Soumya came out of the crease, made a mess of his slog-sweep and was caught by Masakadza at midwicket. Tigers batter tossed away a bright start, scored 25 from 21 with three fours and a six to the delight of the home crowd.
Sabbir Rahman took up the mantel of scoring quickly and hammered anything that came close to his arc.
With Sabbir on the aggressive, Bangladesh enjoyed a fifty-run stand for the second wicket in only 28 balls.
Soumya Sarkar began his counterattack with some delightful shots through cover and mid-wicket. He picked the length early and tried to use his feet to unsettle the opposing bowlers.
Bangladesh’s chase got off to a rocky start when their opener Imrul Kayes departed in the first over bowled by Chisoro. Imrul fell for a single run.
Earlier, superb late order batting from Zimbabwe’s middle order gave them 187 for six in 20 overs, their highest T20I total against Bangladesh.
Waller whacked 49, Williams 32 and Sibanda 44 on a day when the visitors hardly put a foot wrong batting first.
For Bangladesh, Shakib took three wickets, Abu Hider two and Mohammad Shahid one. Both Shahid and Hider conceded over ten runs per over while others too suffered at the hands of Zimbabwe’s belligerent batters.
Abu Hider was rewarded for his efforts in the last over of the match when he took two wickets and conceded ten runs.
He first dismissed Williams for a well-made 32 from 26. Then he sent back Sikandar Raza with his second last ball.
Shakib picked up his third wicket of the match when Waller failed to clear the mid-wicket boundary in the 18th over.
Waller went for the slog sweep to a flat and full ball on leg. He struck it well but found Soumya at the deep. His 49 runs from only 23 balls gave Zimbabwe the impetus they needed desperately during the death overs.
Zimbabwe’s batter treated the crowd to a special cameo with two fours and four sixes during his stay at the crease.
Shakib finished his quota of four overs and took three for 32.
Zimbabwe got some quick runs late in their innings with Waller bringing out the long handle with conviction. He smacked boundaries almost every over to hurt Bangladesh.
Waller and Williams brought up their fifty-run stand for the fourth wicket in only 29 balls.
Zimbabwe lost their third wicket, and began to slide after Shakib sent back Sibanda in the 11th over of the game.
Sibanda had earlier batted positively, and scored 44 runs from 33 balls. He sent the Bangladeshis on a leather hunt with six fours and a massive six during his 48-minute stay at the wicket.
After play resumed, Shakib Al Hasan rocked Zimbabwe’s innings with the wicket of Mutumbani in the ninth over.
Shakib floated one outside off, Mutumbani went for a slog-sweep towards mid-wicket but only managed to hit as far as Sabbir.
Zimbabwe’s batter scored 20 runs before he threw away his wicket in a moment of sheer madness.
After Bangladesh came back into the match with Masakadza’s wicket, clouds opened up and the drizzle forced the players to leave the field at Khulna.
On a positive note, the ground staff only covered the square and the pitch, as weather reports predicted a passing shower over the picturesque ground today.
Mohammad Shahid gave Bangladesh the first breakthrough when he dismissed Hamilton Masakadza against the run of play.
Masakadza fell in the fourth over, after he spanked 20 from 14 balls with five boundaries to his name.
Hamilton Masakadza and Vusi Sibanda took a liking to the new ball bowlers of Bangladesh and hammered them all over the park to give Zimbabwe a flying start.
Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura won the toss and opted to bat first and make first use of the batting friendly pitch at Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium, Khulna in the 3rd T20I of the 4-match series against Bangladesh today.
Bangladesh are sitting pretty with a 2-0 lead. The time is ripe for them to unleash their bench strength.
Zimbabwe, meanwhile, are still smarting from their series loss to Afghanistan in the UAE. Ordinary performances in the first two games means they are running out of time.
They rested the designated captain Elton Chigumbura among three players in the last game. It remains to be seen if they are brought back in at a crunch time.
That apart, they will also need impact players like Sikandar Raza and Luke Jongwe to come good if they are to challenge the hosts in conditions as subcontinental as they can get.
With Bangladesh missing Mushfiqur Rahim due to a hamstring injury, even as Mustafizur Rahman and Al-Amin Hossain, their best seamers on show in the first two games, have been rested, Zimbabwe will hope to cash in on the relative inexperience of some of the Bangladesh players.
Both sides have started well with the bat, but haven't been able to finish off the innings. The team batting second will have the advantage of dew, as it would allow the ball to slide onto the bat nicely, while making life difficult for the spinners.
Mashrafe Mortaza (Captain), Abu Hider, Arafat Sunny, Imrul Kayes, Mahmudullah, Mohammad Shahid, Mosaddek Hossain, Muktar Ali, Nurul Hasan (Wicketkeeper), Sabbir Rahman, Shakib Al Hasan, Soumya Sarkar, Tamim Iqbal and Taskin Ahmed
E Chigumbura (Captain), CJ Chibhabha, TS Chisoro, AG Cremer, LM Jongwe, N Madziva, H Masakadza, WP Masakadza, PJ Moor, R Mutumbami (Wicketkeeper), T Muzarabani, V Sibanda, Sikandar Raza, BV Vitori, MN Waller and SC Williams