Zimbabwe overcome Mushfiqur to take series
Zimbabwe 250 for 7 (Taibu 83, Shakib 2-41) beat Bangladesh 245 (Mushfiqur 101, Utseya 3-47) by five runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Mushfiqur Rahim's run-a-ball century went in vain as Bangladesh lost a thrilling match in Harare to hand Zimbabwe the series, with two games left to play. Mushfiqur took Bangladesh within touching distance of victory, after coming to the crease in the 18th over and steadily chipping away at the required rate. He defied a Zimbabwe attack that has dominated the Bangladesh batsmen so far, but he perished one shot away from victory.
He was the backbone of Bangladesh chase and provided the vertebrae for debutant Shuvagoto Hom and Mahmudullah to branch out onto but it was not enough. After Zimbabwe put on a par score of 250 on pitch that was good for batting, Mushfiqur would have felt that he had done enough in the middle overs when he built the foundation for the Bangladesh chase, only to see it unravel in the last eight overs, with a sublime show of toe-crushing death bowling from Kyle Jarvis.
Together with Hom, Mushfiqur moved Bangladesh to within 66 runs of victory when Brendan Taylor called his troops together for a huddle. They had a series win within reach and he wanted to express the importance of showing that they can defend a total, not just chase one. The very next ball, Hom was run out after pushing the ball to extra cover and taking off for a suicidal run. Mushfiqur was unmoved, taking on Prosper Utseya and Brian Vitori with five boundaries off the next four overs.
Vitori was in danger of going wicket-less but removed Mahmudullah with a short ball with his last delivery and caused a major dent in the Bangladesh challenge. Two balls later, Nasir Hossain was also victim to a miscued pull shot, this time from Chris Mpofu. Still, Mushfiqur soldiered on, pulling Mpofu for four and getting it down to 16 from 12 balls.
Jarvis removed Shafiul Islam with a full delivery and Mushfiqur responded with a six over midwicket. Jarvis struck back, this time taking out Rubel Hossain with a perfect, inswinging yorker. With eight needed off the final over, Mushfiqur reached his maiden century off the first ball before surrendering to a full delivery, lofted to long-on, to give Mpofu a second wicket and end Bangladesh's fight.
Despite their defeat, Bangladesh seemed to have finally learned from the lessons of matches past and the Zimbabwe innings earlier and benefitted from composure upfront. The openers, Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes, put on 50 their best partnership of the series and negotiated Vitori and Jarvis without taking many risks and scoring mostly in singles.
Utseya was the unlikely hero for Zimbabwe, claiming the wicket of Imrul, who he trapped lbw and Siddique, from a caught and bowled. Tamim was run out by Mpofu, after attempting a second run, without his bat, which he dropped mid-way down the pitch, ending his best innings of the tour so far.
Shakib did not have to do a repair job, for a change, but found himself bogged down by accurate bowling, mostly from Hamilton Masakadza, who helped push the required-rate up to seven. Eventually, a phenomenal effort from Utseya, who pulled off a caught and bowled diving low to his left, marked the end of the captain's efforts.
Mushfiqur and debutant Shuvagoto who showed the same maturity Nasir did in Sunday's match, formed a potent partnership and put on 61 runs in ten overs, to trouble Zimbabwe and almost take the game away from them. When Shuvagoto was run out, it started a dramatic collapse for Bangladesh, who lost their last six wickets for 60 runs.
Like the top order, Bangladesh's bowlers, especially the seamers, also showed marked improvement from the first two matches, making use of tighter lines and lengths in favourable conditions that were cool and cloudy. Although there was not much in the way of movement, the seamers were accurate and forced Brendan Taylor and Vusi Sibanda to play a defensive game.
Taylor's lack of footwork cost him for the third time when he slashed at a short and wide ball and was caught at slip. Sibanda followed seven overs later, his execution of the pull shot letting him down again, as he top edged a short Rubel delivery. Tatenda Taibu played more sensibly and was able to capitalise on the pressure release in the 19th over, with the introduction of Nasir.
Taibu was dropped three times in his 83, twice when he was on 41, but he displayed some nifty footwork, particularly against the spinners, who were less disciplined than their pacemen. Masakadza accumulated at a slower rate, catching up with Taibu only after crossing the half-century mark.
The pair took the batting Powerplay in the 38th over showing intent to capitalise with two established batsmen at the crease. But, Rubel and Shafiul were up to the task, bowling yorkers with distinction, one of which uprooted Masakadza's leg stump.
Zimbabwe's acceleration continued and they added 52 in the last six overs with Elton Chigumbura using his licence to go wild. It was that burst that proved to be the difference between the two sides.
The victory marks the first time Zimbabwe have won an ODI series against a Test playing nation in five years, when they beat Bangladesh 3-2 at home. The remaining two matches in the series will be played in Bulawayo.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent