Zimbabwe survive dogged Shakib for close win
Zimbabwe 209 (Chakabva 45, Razzak 4-41) beat Bangladesh 200 (Shakib 63, Mpofu 3-25) by nine runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Zimbabwe overcame a stubborn Shakib Al Hasan to outlast Bangladesh by nine runs in the opening one-dayer in Mirpur. The margin of victory did not do justice to the Zimbabwe spinners' control for most of the chase, and emphasised Shakib's excellence in retrieving a cause that had seemed out of bounds at one point. He played the defining innings on a day dominated by the bowlers, but his team-mates succumbed to the pressure in a spate of poor shots and run-outs to end their team's dream run, and hand Zimbabwe an upset victory.
Bangladesh were in the middle of a major top-order collapse when Shakib walked out: in under six overs, they had gone from 76 for 1 to 98 for 5, with Ray Price and Prosper Utseya breathing down their necks. When Suhrawadi Shuvo was cleaned up with the score on 115, Bangladesh were pushed right to the edge of the precipice. Shakib, however, knew that the run-rate was under control, and chose to wait for the weaker bowlers to come on.
Displaying the kind of composure that made Michael Bevan famous, he turned things around without ever looking like taking a risk. When Price and Utseya hustled through their overs, he resorted to cautious dabs into the gaps before opening up against Keith Dabengwa who came on as back-up. Shakib used Dabengwa's angle and spin to find the leg-side boundary with a variety of sweeps, looting 13 runs off the 36th over. That assault reduced the equation to 65 from 14 overs and Zimbabwe began to sweat again.
With Mahmudullah holding up the other end, Elton Chigumbura was forced to bring back the lead spinners. Shakib seamlessly shifted back into nurdle-mode, bringing up his 16th half-century in the 41st over, with one of several check-drives to long-off. Zimbabwe eventually broke through in the 43rd, Mahmudullah holing out against Chris Mpofu after adding 54 with Shakib. With the batting Powerplay in place for the last five overs, Mashrafe Mortaza helped Shakib narrow the gap further, biffing a couple of boundaries through the off side. Twenty-three to get off 21 and time for Bangladesh to show they could close things out. Unfortunately for them, there were more twists to follow.
A dreadful mix-up left Mortaza stranded mid-pitch, forcing him to sacrifice his wicket for the team's cause. It did not help; With 15 needed at run-a-ball, Shakib committed his first error of the day, top-edging a scoop into short fine-leg's lap. It was all over in the 49th over when Shafiul Islam perished to the fourth run-out of the innings, leaving Zimbabwe's fielders jumping for joy.
The sad part for Bangladesh was that their errors in the second half came after a very professional job in the first. Once again, they executed the slow left-arm choke they have become dangerously adept at, overcoming a strong opening and a resilient middle-order recovery to dismiss Zimbabwe for 209. Abdur Razzak played the lead role for the home side, prising out four wickets to go past 150 one-day scalps, while the supporting cast tied up things at the other end.
Razzak came on in the 10th over and he promptly made an impact with his variations, after the seamers had wasted the morning's favourable weather conditions. Chamu Chibhabha perished to an ambitious swipe across the line, before Brendan Taylor's back foot was coaxed out of the crease with lovely flight and spin. The track suddenly seemed full of demons, with Razzak getting every other delivery to bite and spit across the right-handers. As is often the case in such circumstances, Chigumbura fell to one of the poorer deliveries, chopping a wide ball onto the stumps.
After Tatenda Taibu's dismissal, Zimbabwe quickly reassessed the innings and Craig Ervine combined with Regis Chakabva in a risk-free repair job. With Razzak out of the attack, survival became easier and both batsmen settled in to work the bowling around. Chakabva swept a couple of leg-stump offerings and Ervine guided a full toss through the covers, all for fours, but otherwise their 65-run stand was characterised by deft placement and smart running.
Mahmudullah eventually broke through with a flighted offbreak, foxing Chakabva into a return catch for 45. By then, Zimbabwe had survived the toughest phase of the innings without losing much ground. They failed to make the most of the platform, though, losing their way towards the end.
Ervine and Utseya departed in the batting Powerplay, exposing the tail to the spinners. The result was that the last five wickets fell for 25, ending the innings in the 49th over. At that stage it looked like a fighting score. A couple of hours later, it seemed to be more than sufficient, but Shakib was not going to go down without a fight. On the day, though, he could not do enough to deliver the knockout punch.
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo