Bangladesh sweep to series victory
A five-wicket haul by Abdur Razzak helped Bangladesh gain an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match one-day series, as they beat Zimbabwe by 26 runs in the third match at Bogra. Zimbabwe gave themselves a shot at gaining their maiden victory of the series after a committed display in the field, restricting the opposition to 220. However, the batsmen, barring Sean Williams, failed to respond to the task as they were bowled out for 194. Razzak, continued his purple patch in this series with superb figures of 5 for 33, his best figures in ODIs.
As has been the trend in this series, Bangladesh rode on the performance of their spinners and an impressive opening burst by their fast bowlers, who gave little away. Brendan Taylor was the first to go, beaten for pace by Shahadat Hossain. Stuart Matsikenyeri wasn't afraid to free his arms, and that approach fetched him a few powerful boundaries through the off side off the seamers. But Zimbabwe's struggles against spin continued as Razzak - brought in as early as the 10th over - struck with two wickets in his first over. Matsikenyeri failed to capitalise on his start and was bowled trying to swing across the line, while two balls later Chamu Chibhabha was sent packing, trapped in front. Hamilton Masakadza went soon after, slashing hard at an outswinger, and at 48 for 4, Zimbabwe were in dire trouble.
They nearly lost a fifth when Shahriar Nafees dropped a sitter at third man, giving Williams a reprieve on 2, and his 75-run stand with Elton Chigumbura gave Zimbabwe hope. Both though, were forced to graft it out, with spinners operating from both ends. The pair managed just three boundaries in a space of ten overs as the asking rate mounted. Razzak, Saqibul Hasan and Mohammad Rafique managed to combat the dew and stick to a restrictive line, not allowing any width as the trio conceded just 116 runs in 30 overs. Mashrafe Mortaza, brought back for a second spell, rocked Zimbabwe further as Chigumbura gloved one down the leg side for 31, with his side still 98 adrift of the target. Williams and Keith Dabengwa did, however, revive Zimbabwe's fortunes with a fluent 58-run stand, but it was too little too late. Razzak returned for his second spell and claimed two wickets to seal Zimbabwe's fate.
It was a pitch which tested the batsmen from both teams - Bangladesh's batsmen struggled too after getting off to a flier. Put in to bat, Bangladesh looked set to post a tall score as the openers, Nafees and Mehrab Hossain, exploited the wayward offerings by the Zimbabwe fast bowlers, who struggled to control the early swing. Nafees's dismissal, caught brilliantly by Gary Brent at leg gully, brought Aftab Ahmed to the crease and he wasted no time in stating his intent, charging down the pitch against Ed Rainsford, picking up a streaky boundary down to third man, followed by a more controlled loft over midwicket. Unfortunately for Bangladesh, it ended up being one of his typical cameo knocks, as he top-edged a sweep to short fine leg for 16, immediately after Prosper Utseya brought himself on. Zimbabwe then clawed back as several batsmen were guilty of hurrying into their strokes on a sluggish pitch.
Bangladesh were comfortably placed at 100 for 2 at the end of the 20th over, but the next ten yielded only 25, owing to miserly spells by Utseya and Williams, the left-arm spinner. The reintroduction of Christopher Mpofu, the medium pacer who had a nightmare opening spell, yielded immediate results as he accounted for Hossain and Habibul Bashar in quick succession - both dismissals characterised by the ball stopping on the batsmen. Mpofu later cleaned up the tail to pick up a four-wicket haul.
With runs hard to come by, Ashraful finally broke the shackles with a couple of boundaries and showed more urgency with his running. Dabengwa, the third specialist spinner - who was held back by Utseya till the 42nd over - struck soon, with three quick wickets, accounting for Khaled Mashud, Rafique and Ashraful. The body language of the Zimbabweans reflected in their sprightly performance in the field, as they pouched some sharp catches. Mashrafe Mortaza's late-innings fireworks proved crucial as it lifted Bangladesh to 220, giving their bowlers a competitive total to defend.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is editorial assistant of Cricinfo