Utseya praises Zimbabwe's patience
The Zimbabwe captain, Prosper Utseya, has cited his side's discipline as the key to their victory in the ODI series-opener against Bangladesh in Mirpur. The game nearly slipped away from the visitors while chasing what appeared to be an easy 125, but they held their nerve to win by two wickets.
"I think we are a more disciplined side and if we continue to be like that then we should win the series," said Utseya. "We knew that the wicket would do a little bit especially with the new ball so we needed guys to apply themselves and one batsman in the top four to bat through and others could bat around him. We need the batting to improve. I think we are letting ourselves down in batting I don't think [in] chasing 125 we should be winning by two wickets."
Ray Price was undoubtedly the hero for Zimbabwe with a career-best 4 for 22 and an unbeaten 23 from 52 balls, including consecutive boundaries to win the match. 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.
"I am very happy," said Price. "I think I have been an underachiever with the bat. It was very important that we concentrated today. It is important to take it game by game and ball by ball and not get ahead of yourself and play positive cricket.
"You have to be patient at all times in cricket and I am also lucky because of the kind of fielders we have. They make my job a lot easier. I focus on bowling every ball on the off stump. And also I guess the variation."
The failure of the top order had caused yet another upset for the hosts. And the disappointment was writ large on captain Mohammad Ashraful's face during the post-match interview.
"I guess it was the pressure of not being able to score," he said. "They bowled a superb line and we couldn't get the score ticking. I had told the players and the coach before going out to toss that we would bat first if I call correctly. The wicket looked hard and I thought if we survive the first ten overs then we would be able to post something like 220 which can be defended on this track.
"But we soon realized that this was probably a 160-170 pitch and we wanted to get there. Unfortunately the top-order failed again and we had the impossible task of defending 124. The pitch remained difficult longer than we had anticipated."
He also defended his decision of not opting for a spinner in the final over, and said the bowling department was not the real concern. "We discussed our options and I did speak to the spinners, but probably their confidence level was not quite right and we had seen that the Zimbabwean batsmen at the crease were not too comfortable with pace.
"You have to remember that these guys are very new in international cricket and given a bit of time they'll have the confidence to bowl in such situations but at the moment the bowling is not our problem. The bowlers have been magnificent for a number of matches now."
The second game of the three-match encounter will be played on Wednesday at the same venue, and Ashraful believed the batsmen would have to come good if Bangladesh were to stay alive in the series. "We just have to get a decent score on the board. That is the only area where we are struggling. If we are at our best in all three departments then we should be good enough to bounce back."