All-round Price seals last-over thriller
Zimbabwe sneaked an excruciating two-wicket win over Bangladesh in the first of three matches in Mirpur, with Ray Price holding his nerve with the No. 10 Tawanda Mupariwa. Bangladesh had been bowled out for their third-lowest total against Zimbabwe, and appeared set to mete out even more pitiful treatment to the opposition when they left them at 44 for 6, but the lower order combined to pull off a narrow victory. Price was the star for Zimbabwe, capping a career-best 4 for 22 with an unbeaten 23 from 52 balls, including consecutive boundaries to win the match.
The visitors' chase had faltered from the start. Mashrafe Mortaza achieved a bit of movement with the new ball, and drew an early wicket for Bangladesh in the third over. Hamilton Masakadza chased one pitched up outside off stump and got a faint edge. Forced to play a few hurried shots against the moving ball, Tatenda Taibu had his stumps splayed by a good delivery from Mortaza.
Three deliveries later Stuart Matsikenyeri played a cramped shot to Shakib Al Hasan's first delivery and was bowled. Zimbabwe had two new batsmen at the crease in the ninth over. Shakib continued to weave his magic, drawing an edge from Sean Williams' bat. When Elton Chigumbura edged Mortaza in the next over, Zimbabwe were 37 for 5 - and Chigumbura was the unflattering distinction of recording the second-longest duck in ODI history. Keith Dabengwa was the next to go, creating too much room and losing his stumps to Shakib in the 20th over. Shakib completely confounded the batsmen. Tellingly, there was just one scoring stroke in Shakib's first four overs and his initial spell read 7-4-8-3.
Malcolm Waller, son of former Zimbabwe international Andy, walked in on international debut and drove his first ball through the covers for four. He played a few more encouraging shots but, like others before him, could not sustain. He was the seventh to depart in the 31st over, leg before to Mahmudullah for 24.
Prosper Utseya, playing with patience, worked the singles and shielded Price as best he could, adding 20 in just over 10 overs. His dismissal gave Bangladesh hope, but Price and Mupariwa stuck around. With six needed from the last over, bowled by Nazmul Hossain, Price charged and swung the first ball for four, before flicking the second to the ropes to seal victory. It was Zimbabwe's second successive win over Bangladesh, after a 38-run upset in the recent tri-series.
Earlier, Zimbabwe's medium-pacers set the tone with a frugal opening spell and the spinners, especially Price, helped themselves to Bangladesh's brittle order. The first three overs were maidens, the first boundary came in the sixth over, and Bangladesh had lost their first wicket in the seventh. Subtle movement from Ed Rainsford did in Junaid Siddique, who didn't get far forward enough and was caught leg before in front of the stumps. Mohammad Ashraful promoted himself to No. 3, but made just 4 from 18 balls, getting a feeble leading edge to mid-on, where Rainsford pulled off a diving catch.
There was early success for Masakadza, whose first over of slow spin brought him the wicket of Tamim Iqbal. Masakadza kept every delivery up to Tamim, on and around off stump, and after being beaten once the batsman feathered a thin edge to Taibu. After 20 overs Bangladesh were 46 for 3. Rainsford's first eight overs cost just 12 and Mupariwa allowed 13 from his eight.
After taking two consecutive boundaries off Price's first over, Raqibul Hasan played back to the last ball and hit a return catch to the bowler. Price struck again in his second over, drawing a cramped cut from Shakib to Chigumbura at backward gully, who fumbled thrice before holding on to the top edge.
A 34-run stand - the best of the innings - followed to raise hopes of a resurrection, but an utterly needles reverse-sweep from Mahmudullah to point crushed such notions. In the next over, the 39th, Dabengwa made it 105 for 7 when he got Mushfiqur Rahim with an arm ball. The rest was simple - Mortaza lofted to long-on, Nazmul swung and missed, and Naeem Islam also fell slogging wildly. Price finished with impressive figures of 4 for 22, a personal best at this level, and Dabengwa took 3 for 15.