Bangladesh coast to 2-1 series lead
The Mirpur crowds will be experiencing deja vu. For the third match in five days, the team batting first was bowled out cheaply, and their total was overhauled with plenty of overs remaining. After the blip in the first game, Bangladesh remained on track to fulfill their captain Shakib Al Hasan's bold prediction of a 4-1 series victory following a second crushing win in a row.
Shakib had more reason to be pleased after his top-order batsmen heeded his call to turn in an improved performance; opener Tamim Iqbal blasting 80 and No. 3 Mohammad Ashraful finding form with a patient half-century.
Zimbabwe were actually undone, as they have been on numerous occasions this year, by Bangladesh's phalanx of spinners. As many as six of them were used, and they forced Zimbabwe to lose their way after opener Hamilton Masakadza had powered the visitors to a healthy 148 for 3. The last six wickets went down for 48 runs.
Masakadza's stroke-filled 84 was the most sizeable contribution of an utterly disappointing scorecard and the lack of support - the next best was 29 - was testament to how the slow bowlers persevered. The spinners allowed Zimbabwe just 27 from the second Powerplay but Mushfiqur Rahim muffed a chance offered by Malcolm Waller when he was just 1, failing to hold an outside edge. Boundaries dried up - there were just three between overs 18.1 and 27.1 - and another wicket came Bangladesh's way when Masakadza tried to break free but pulled a long hop to the fielder.
The slow bowlers pulled things back by dismissing Waller (27) and Stuart Matsikenyeri in between another spilled catch by Rahim, when Elton Chigumbura gloved one down the leg side. The rest of the players came and went, notably frustrated by the slow bowlers and throwing away their wickets. Enamul, in for Dolar Mahmud, justified his selection with 3 for 45. Nazmul, the only fast bowler used, snuffed out the tail to finish with 3 for 13.
Before the batting imploded, opener Masakadza had gone berserk, going past 1000 runs in the calendar year as he made his eighth 50-plus ODI score in 2009. After two quiet overs, including a second maiden over, Masakadza opened up with boundaries off Nazmul Hossain, using his feet both times. Abdur Razzak, getting use of the new ball, was taken for consecutive boundaries in the fourth over but Nazmul delivered the breakthrough by getting Taylor for a labored 2 for 15 balls.
With Charles Coventry beginning by attacking Shakib, Masakadza kept mining the same vein of intent. Enamul Haque jnr's first two deliveries disappeared for four and six, off front foot and back, and then skipped out to punch Razzak past mid-off. The sparkling strokeplay continued against Shakib, who was lashed for three more fours in his second over.
Just after Masakadza raised his half-century from 36 balls, Mushfiqur Rahim fluffed a stumping off Enamul to give Coventry a life. Coventry added two sixes to his name before top-edging Enamul to midwicket for a run-a-ball 29, and in the same over Forster Mutizwa - in for an injured Tatenda Taibu - departed for 0. The spinners started taking charge, and Zimbabwe's batsmen were mostly subdued after that.
Bangladesh, in contrast, never let the Zimbabwe bowlers dominate: every time the runs were kept in check, the home side managed to break free with a boundary. Opener Tamim had declared before the match that he would turn in an improved performance after two flops in the series, and he lived up to his promise. His partner, Junaid Siddique, had another forgettable outing and increased the scrutiny over his place in the side by falling for 5.
Tamim, though, switched Bangladesh into top gear with a flurry of fours off Chigumbura in the sixth over. He was supported by another man who is out-of-form, Ashraful, who took his time initially before opening out. The pair piled on 98 runs at a brisk pace to virtually put Zimbabwe out of the game. Tamim was toying the Zimbabwe spinners, and was on his way to a century, when he was stumped after being beaten by Graeme Cremer.
After some cautious batting with Raqibul Hasan, Ashraful hit Cremer for three fours in the 32nd over. The Powerplay was taken and a quick end seemed in sight, but Ashraful was bowled off the first ball of the Powerplay. That triggered a stutter from the home side and they lost three more wickets and consumed 51 deliveries to knock off the required 22 runs.