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December 8, 2006
Set 147 to win after yet another disciplined bowling attack, Bangladesh cruised through to their fourth win on the trot against a hapless Zimbabwe at the newly inaugurated Shere Bangla Stadium in Dhaka. Shahriar Nafees began in typical languid fashion only to fall short of a fifty, but Aftab Ahmed completed the route inside 33 overs with an unbeaten 58 in an 85-run stand for the third wicket in the company of Saqibul Hasan, who contributed a steady 31 not out.
Aftab joined Nafees at 43 for 1 in the ninth over, and smacked the second ball he faced for six over the square leg fence. While Nafees cut and drove his way to a 39-ball 34, Aftab cautioned himself against the controlled slow medium pace of Gary Brent, to whom the only two wickets fell. When the ball was too full or short, though, Aftab was quick to cash in. His footwork too against the spinners was confident. Singles continued to come at a steady clip and with the resolutely reliable Saqibul at one end, Aftab backed himself to hit out if required.
The chance came when Sean Williams, whose first-ball duck earlier was a turning point for Zimbabwe, was brought on to bowl his slow left-arm spin. Twice Aftab launched him over the ropes, smacked over long-off and long-on, before he drove Keith Dabengwa for four to reach his ninth ODI fifty. The very next ball, Aftab pulled the bowler for his fourth six, and the affair was sealed soon after.
Habibul Bashar's decision to bowl first was justified earlier. True to form, Mashrafe Mortaza removed the Zimbabwean openers, the spinners once against spun a web around the remaining batsmen, and Shahadat Hossain removed the in-form Williams for a golden duck and top-scorer Dabengwa.
In his second over, Mortaza got one to move the slightest bit outside off stump and drew Chamu Chibhabha into a fatal edge. In his sixth, the 11th of the innings, he bowled Tino Mawoyo, the debutant, for a 29-ball 14. As has become the norm in this lop-sided series, Abdur Razzak was brought on first-change, and immediately had Hamilton Masakadza sweeping to Bashar at short fine leg.
The nail in the proverbial coffin was delivered in the next over when Williams, easily Zimbabwe's most fluent batsman on the tour, played across the line to Shahadat and was gone for 0.
From here on, the spinners, as they have done so well in the other matches, bowled a nagging line and waited for the opposition to err. Brendan Taylor misread Razzak and was stumped, Elton Chigumbura ambitiously swept and was bowled by Saqibul, Mluleki Nkala flicked Mohammad Rafique airily to square leg, and Gary Brent cut Saqibal straight to point. Shahadat and Mortaza returned at the death to remove Dabengwa and Prosper Utseya and left their batting team-mates another easy total to chase.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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