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The Wisden Verdict by John Ward
March 12, 2004
Zimbabwe, without ever convincing, levelled the one-day series by beating Bangladesh by 14 runs. It was another tense match with the side batting second coming close to their target without quite getting close enough.
Bangladesh were good with the ball and superb in the field, but their batting was not quite talented or experienced enough to do the job. Both teams were let down by their top orders, but Zimbabwe had the extra strength in the middle to make up for it.
Man of the Match was Heath Streak, and once again he performed the role of Atlas. He has assumed the mantle of Andy Flower, and without his contribution with bat, ball and in the field Zimbabwe would have lost again. He stabilised the middle order with 45 runs, he took four wickets for 30, he took two catches, and he executed a brilliant run-out. Streak, like Flower before him, is a giant among pygmies, although young stallions such as Sean Ervine and Raymond Price have already shown they are of genuine international quality.
Zimbabwe, nervy after their defeat on Wednesday, slumped to 79 for 5 before Ervine and Streak stepped in, as they have had to do so often recently with the continual failures of their top order. This turned the match, although they might well have put the target well out of Bangladesh's reach had Andy Blignaut been sent in ahead of Dion Ebrahim, although the latter did bat well. Blignaut, who blasted 28 not out off 17 balls, was again wasted at No. 9.
The second vital element was Streak's opening spell of seven overs, during which he took three wickets for just 16 runs. Bangladesh did well to come so close to their target after such an early setback, but they did not quite have the same middle-order firepower as Zimbabwe. Even so they fought superbly to the end, and set the stage for what should be a very tense deciding match on Sunday. Zimbabwe should be able to win, but can they overcome their tendency to choke under pressure?
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