Razzak and Shakib lead comfortable victory
Bangladesh 194 for 4 (Raqibul 65, Siddique 53) beat Zimbabwe 191 (Razzak 5-30, Shakib 4-39) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The reliable and the not-so-reliable clicked together at the same time for Bangladesh. Abdur Razzak and Shakib Al Hasan spun a web around Zimbabwe, and their batsmen ensured it didn't unravel to level the five-match ODI series 1-1 in Mirpur. The left-arm spin duo took nine wickets between them as Zimbabwe lurched to 191, after which the batsmen led by Raqibul Hasan - playing in place of Mohammad Ashraful - and Junaid Siddique took charge as Bangladesh breezed to a six-wicket victory.
The spinners did what they have become increasingly adept at, putting the squeeze on Zimbabwe's batsmen on a typically slow Mirpur surface that did not turn much, and Razzak finished them off with a late hat-trick. Except for a brief period when 57 runs came in eight overs during a seventh-wicket stand between Craig Ervine and Prosper Utseya, Zimbabwe struggled for direction. The Bangladesh batsmen then did what they failed to two days ago, making important, if not substantial contributions, in what proved to be a comfortable chase.
Ervine and Utseya showed the way to stuttering top and middle-order batsmen, who had thrown away several starts to leave Zimbabwe on 132 for 6 in 37 overs. However, Razzak returned to remove Utseya with the last ball of the 45th over, and then trapped Ray Price and Chris Mpofu leg before with the first two deliveries of the 47th, ensuring Zimbabwe failed to bat out 50 overs. Ervine, playing with an urgency that had eluded the batsmen preceding him, was left stranded on 42.
Ervine had given direction to an innings that was going nowhere, driving and working the spinners around with purpose. Meanwhile, Utseya targeted the vacant deep midwicket region, repeatedly swinging the left-arm spinners against the turn. At 189 for 6 with more than five overs to go, including four of the batting Powerplay, Zimbabwe were targeting a total in excess of 225, which could have proved difficult to chase. However, Razzak and Shakib orchestrated the late collapse, ensuring Bangladesh would chase under 200.
Zimbabwe had struggled in the middle overs against the spinners, with Keith Dabengwa and Tatenda Taibu using 104 deliveries for a 48-run fourth-wicket stand. Both batsmen's dismissals highlighted their frustration at being unable to score: Dabengwa spooned a full toss back to Shakib, while Taibu was given out lbw after missing an attempted reverse sweep for the umpteenth time. Four overs later, Elton Chigumbura swung wildly at Shakib and was bowled as Zimbabwe slid to 132 for 6.
The start hadn't been as bleak for Zimbabwe as Brendan Taylor and Regis Chakabva took them to 50 for 1 by the tenth over. However, the introduction of spin as early as the seventh over soon brought results and Taylor and Chakabva fell quickly.
Bangladesh's start mirrored Zimbabwe's. Tamim started quickly when they came out to bat before lunch. Prosper Utseya opened for Zimbabwe with offspin, and was greeted with a six and a four over mid-off. At the other end, Chris Mpofu surprised Imrul Kayes with sharp bounce to induce an edge to Taibu. Mpofu could have had another one in the same over, but Elton Chigumbura dropped a sitter as Siddique hit airily to mid-off.
Undeterred, Tamim glanced consecutive deliveries past short fine leg for boundaries. When Siddique too got going with a perfect back-foot punch through cover, it seemed Bangladesh had learned from the disaster chase two days ago. Old habits came back to haunt them, though, when Tamim holed out to Mpofu off Ray Price, after having hit the previous delivery for six.
Bangladesh slowed down a touch after Tamim's dismissal, with Price being miserly. But unlike the Bangladesh spinners, who had kept up the pressure from both ends, Utseya continued to leak runs. Siddique made Zimbabwe pay for the drop with his first half-century in eight innings and shared a 72-run partnership with Raqibul. Siddique had a brain fade soon after reaching his half-century, giving Price a blind charge, and Taibu did the rest. Raqibul took over, sweeping and cutting Price for three boundaries in an over. A six over deep midwicket off Utesya brought up his half-century before he became the third Bangladesh batsman to dance down and throw his wicket away, getting stumped off Dabengwa. But Bangladesh were almost home by then.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo