Masakadza, Mpofu seal 11-run win
Zimbabwe 154 for 6 (Masakadza 62) beat Bangladesh 143 for 5 (Tamim 38, Mpofu 2-20) by 11 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Zimbabwe cruised to an 11-run win over Bangladesh in the opening match of the tri-series at Harare Sports Club. After choosing to bat on a dry pitch, Zimbabwe were propped up by the in-form Hamilton Masakadza's bellicose half-century as they reached 154 for 6. A professional team effort from Zimbabwe's bowlers then completed the job, the spinners keeping Bangladesh's explosive top order quiet and the seamers holding their nerve at the death.
Tamim Iqbal and Mohammad Ashraful, promoted to open the batting, had approached Bangladesh's chase with the clear intention of laying a platform and not losing early wickets. They managed five boundaries in the first six overs but became oddly becalmed when Brendan Taylor turned to his spinners, Prosper Utseya and Graeme Cremer.
By the seventh over Taylor was using spin from both ends, and though neither Tamim nor Ashraful are known as calm accumulators, they did just that as the opening stand passed 50 in the eighth over. With the required run-rate approaching nine an over, Ashraful jumped out of his crease at Utseya only for the bowler to spear one past the outside edge. Taylor completed a smart stumping.
A fired-up Ziaur Rahman thumped his third ball, from Utseya, high over the deep midwicket boundary to give the chase a little oomph but Zimbabwe's spinners kept the pressure on both batsmen. Cremer was particularly thrifty, mixing fizzing legbreaks with quicker sliders as just two runs came from his third over. Cremer's unbroken spell from the city end should have brought a wicket when Rahman top-edged a slog sweep and Mpofu set himself to take the catch at wide long-on. The ball burst straight through his fingers, however, and bobbled over the rope for four.
Mpofu made quick amends for his lapse when he came on from the Golf Course end and picked up Tamim's vital wicket as a slashed drive was caught by a tumbling Jarvis at third man to reduce Bangladesh to 87 for 2 in the 14th over. The uncapped Richard Muzhange has made his name in domestic limited-overs cricket through his skilful use of the yorker and it was a swinging toe-crusher that got rid of Mushfiqur Rahim as Bangladesh quickly slipped to 95 for 3.
An athletic, diving catch by Craig Ervine at deep backward square got rid of Rahman and from then on Zimbabwe's grip tightened steadily. Nasir Hossain and Mahmudullah swung gamely at everything to keep Bangladesh in the hunt, but they were simply not given enough to hit and Jarvis had no trouble defending 19 in the final over.
Zimbabwe's batting had not been quite so assured, and they were thankful for Masakadza's knock. He struck the ball with fluency and power but after he fell Zimbabwe stumbled on a surface that slowed noticeably as the afternoon wore on.
Masakadza's first task had been to negotiate Abdur Razzaq's parsimonious opening spell, which he did with aplomb while collecting three fours and a six in Mashrafe Mortaza's first three overs. Emboldened by the imperious form that brought him a century in Zimbabwe's warm-up match two days ago, Masakadza raced into the 30s by slapping Abul Hasan's second ball cleanly over long-off.
Vusi Sibanda's scratchy innings came to an end as he walked past one from Elias Sunny that gripped and spun past the outside edge but Taylor did a good job of handing the strike back to Masakadza, who powered the first half of Zimbabwe's innings almost singlehandedly. Masakadza's third six, which skimmed through the fingers of the long-on fielder, took him to a 31-ball half-century. He added a fourth, a brutal flat-batted swipe that dented the advertising boards behind the bowler's arm before being run out.
His departure prompted something of a wobble in the middle order as Ervine was needlessly run-out second ball and Stuart Matsikenyeri managed just a single from his first six balls.
Matsikenyeri eventually got going with a slice to the wide third-man boundary off Razzaq and added 39 for the fourth wicket with Taylor, whose chipped six over extra cover off Sunny was the shot of the innings. But Zimbabwe never quite regained the momentum that Masakadza had given them. Zimbabwe's bowlers more than made up for the shortcomings of their batsmen and Bangladesh will need a good dose of inspiration if they are to bounce back against South Africa in two days' time.