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Imrul 144 gives Bangladesh emphatic win

Bangladesh 271-8 (Imrul 144, Saifuddin 50, Jarvis 4-37) beat Zimbabwe 243-9 (Williams 50*, Mehidy 3-46) by 28 runs

Imrul Kayes' career-best 144 powered Bangladesh to a 28-run win over Zimbabwe in the first ODI. The visitors squandered a golden opportunity to control the game when they had the home side cornered at 139 for 6 in the 30th over. Imrul and Mohammad Saifuddin chose that moment to put on a record 127-run seventh-wicket stand to pull Bangladesh to 271-8 in 50 overs, before the spinners applied the choke in time-honoured fashion, as the home team took a one-nil lead in the three-match series.

Imrul was involved in three crucial stands, the last of which was a rescue act that turned a difficult position into a dominant one. Bangladesh had lost two wickets in the first six overs when Liton Das and debutant Fazle Mahmud fell in the same Tendai Chatara over. Imrul and Mushfiqur Rahim then added 49 runs for the third wicket to revive the innings.

After Mushfiqur fell in the 15th over, Imrul and Mohammad Mithun batted in a higher gear to add 71 runs for the fourth wicket. Mithun struck three sixes and a four in his 37 off 40 balls but then Kyle Jarvis, bowling his third spell, removed Mithun, Mahmudullah and Mehidy Hasan in the space of 13 balls.

The 2 for 3 collapse should have been the end of Bangladesh's positive approach but Imrul and Mohammad Saifuddin did not consume too many deliveries to first steady the innings, and then up the ante, in the last ten overs that saw the home team add 85. Saifuddin's maiden ODI fifty included three fours and a six and came off 69 balls. Imrul, on the other hand, chose his moments to buckle down and attack.

He reached his half century in 64 balls but picked up pace thereafter, getting the next 50 at a run-a-ball. His last 44 runs came even quicker, at a strike-rate of exactly 200, which was a consequence of the five fours and three sixes he hammered during that period.

For Zimbabwe, Jarvis led the way with the ball, finishing with four for 37, while Chatara took three wickets. Till the 40th over, Zimbabwe had done splendidly but all the good work came a cropper in the final ten, not helped in the slightest by a couple of dropped catches and misfields on the boundary.

With 272 to get, Hamilton Masakadza and Cephas Zhuwao gave Zimbabwe early impetus. Zhuwao struck three fours in the first five overs before he slammed Mehidy Hasan for a massive six that landed well beyond the long-on boundary. But with his first ball, Mustafizur Rahman forced his way through Zhuwao's defensive prod, ending his cameo on 35.

In the face of consistent bowling from the home side, Zimbabwe imploded thereafter. Either side of Masakadza's needless run-out, Nazmul Islam produced stunning deliveries to dismiss Brendan Taylor and Sikandar Raza.

With a classic left-arm spinner's delivery that pitched on off and middle, Nazmul hit Taylor's off stump as the batsman pushed forward to defend. Raza was undone by a ripper that turned sharply, beating him on the back foot, and hitting his off stump as well. Both wickets were followed by the customary serpentine celebration.

By this time, the match had all but slipped out of Zimbabwe's grip. Bangladesh continued to dictate terms as Zimbabwe lost more wickets and fell so far behind the required run-rate that even a 67-run ninth wicket stand between Sean Williams - who remained unbeaten on a 58-ball 50 - and Jarvis was not enough to save them from a 28-run defeat.