Bangladesh level the series
There was to be no come-from-behind win or celebratory fist-pumping from Zimbabwe as Bangladesh hit back from yesterday's loss with a 62-run win in the second one-day international at Harare. Having scrapped their way to 238 for 8, Bangladesh bowled and fielded with fire to bowl Zimbabwe out for 176 and level the best-of-five series 1-1.
Bangladesh applied the chokehold on a struggling Zimbabwe. Shahadat Hossain picked up two early wickets, Adbur Razzak snapped up Vusi Sibanda at the halfway mark, the fielders remained sharp to leave the middle order stuttering, and, most importantly, Stuart Matsikenyeri and Elton Chigumbura were kept quiet. Shahadat forced Chamu Chibhabha to nick a straight delivery on the stumps to Khaled Mashud. To add to their problems, the Zimbabwean running between the wickets was poor in the face of a rejuvenated Bangladeshi side. Habibul Bashar and Aftab Ahmed affected two run outs to send the unconvincing Piet Rinke and Hamilton Masakadza back to the pavilion and Zimbabwe were suddenly 52 for 3.
Sibanda, in a similar vein as yesterday, struggled to work the ball off his pads but was fluent through the off side. His dismissal, caught behind off Razzak's flighted left-arm spin, compounded a floundering response with the bat from Zimbabwe. As the run rate soared, Shahadat returned to clean bowl Brendan Taylor, and Zimbabwe's task became all the more difficult. To seal the deal, effectively, the heroic combo from last evening, Matsikenyeri and Chigumbura, were not allowed to perform another rescue act. Though Matsikenyeri got to 46 from 56 deliveries, his dismissal - caught fishing at Razzak by Mashud behind the stumps - signaled the death knell. Chigumbara today struggled to get bat to ball and was trapped leg before by Mohammad Rafique for 15 from 48. Thereafter, the spinners continued to stymie the lower order and Zimbabwe were finally bowled out in the 45th over. Shahadat finished with 3 for 44, the best Bangladeshi figures.
Earlier, a maiden fifty on debut from Farhad Reza and a patient undefeated 48 from Mashud apart, it was a similar tale of woe for the Bangladeshi batsmen against a spirited and disciplined Zimbabwean unit who refused to give in. For the second day running, Prosper Utseya won the toss, inserted Bangladesh, and watched gleefully as his medium pacers wreaked havoc. Or, from a Bangladeshi perspective, Bashar lost the toss again, was forced to expose his frail top order, and watched them self-destruct.
Ed Rainsford and Tawanda Mupariwa began as they did yesterday, simply putting the ball in the right channels and waiting for Bangladesh's imprudence. This was not a pitch on which the batsmen needed to bash everything in sight. Every Bangladeshi was aerial, and three - Javed Omar, Shahriar Nafees, and Aftab Ahmed - perished to shots that just weren't on. Ashraful tried his best to emulate his team-mates with a top-edge and a slog that landed safely between three fielders, but had to depart in a more unconventional way - to a gem of a delivery from Blessing Mahwire.
Farhad, refreshingly, was impressive throughout his innings. He was in fine form down the ground, impressive against the spinners, and a keen judge of a single. With Mashud for partner, he added 71 for the sixth wicket in good time as Bangladesh attempted a fight back. He was dropped at mid-off by Chibhabha on the dot of the halfway mark, but that was merely in keeping with the mood of the innings. He moved to 48 with a heave over midwicket for six, and reached 50 with a calm two through the same region. His effort ended, however, when he failed to get his bat down on a quick Rainsford yorker and lost his leg stump.
Faced with the pressure on 76 for 5, Mashud was his workmanlike self as he swept and dabbed the ball wide of the fielders. He didn't pick up his first boundary until the 49th over, but his presence was a reassuring one for Bangladesh. His unbeaten 48 kept just enough pressure on Zimbabwe not to run away with the match. Mohammad Rafique was keen on the cut shot, and when offered the width, rarely failed to come up short. He even managed a thumping pull over deep backward square leg for six. His 33, off 44 deliveries, was his second valuable act in two days and helped Mashud add a semblance of a good total.
Javed Omar c Utseya b Mupariwa10 (17 for 1)
Looked to work a ball on off to leg, leading edge to mid-off
Shahriar Nafees c Chibhabha b Rainsford 7 (34 for 2)
Ambitious but needless pull shot, lobbed tamely to mid-on
Aftab Ahmed c Masakadza b Mahwire 40 (68 for 3)
Dragged a ball outside off stump to mid-on
Mohammad Ashraful c Taylor b Mahwire 4 (73 for 4)
Beauty pitched on off, played at and a little edge to the keeper
Habibul Bashar c Matsikenyeri b Rinke 5 (76 for 4)
Flayed at one on off stump, great catch at point on the second attempt
Farhad Reza b Rainsford 50 (147 for 6)
Played all around a quick yorker on middle and leg
Mohammad Rafique c Chigumbura b Mahwire 32 (195 for 7)
Lofted down long-off's throat
Mashrafe Mortaza c Sibanda b Mupariwa 14 (213 for 8)
In the slot, classic tail-ender's slog down to long-off
Jamie Alter is editorial assistant of Cricinfo