Magnificent Taylor leads Zimbabwe to victory
Taylor, the only Zimbabwean to shine, took the fight back to Bangladesh with a spirited unbeaten 79 from 72 deliveries. Partnered by the enthusiastic Tawanda Mupariwa, Taylor added a record 81 for the eighth wicket. When the run rate soared past 12 in the last four overs - the 47th over, bowled by Abdul Razzak, seemingly added the varnish on the game as the bowler allowed just five runs - there was little stacked in Zimbabwe's favour.
But what a final over: Mupariwa, whose career-best 33 was immense, pinched a single, Taylor smashed six off the second ball, refused a single off the third, watched as Kevin Barbour called a dubious wide, slammed a one-handed four high over midwicket, watched as Mupariwa was run out, and wiped his brow. The equation, in the end, came down to five off one ball. The crowd was on its feet. And Taylor simply lofted the last ball over midwicket for maximum. It was electric stuff.
Zimbabwe looked down for the count, but Taylor played an impossible innings. Mupariwa, who had done little in his brief career to suggest he could contribute such valuable runs, held his nerve to give Taylor fine support. It was hard to imagine a better Zimbabwean win than in the series opener, but this was heart-pumping cricket.
For the value of this effort to sink in, we must rewind to Shahadat's moment in the match. In the 39th over of Zimbabwe's chase, with the hosts on 150 for 4, he rocked the boat. And how. Tafadzwa Mufambisi, on debut, nicked a wide delivery to Khaled Mashud, Elton Chigumbura departed as he played all over a full and fast delivery and was given lbw in a flash, and Prosper Usteya hung his bat out at one outside off. One, two, three. Every Bangladeshi supporter and more erupted, the flags were flown high, and Shahadat was joined by his team-mates in playful celebration.
Earlier, Zimbabwe's bowlers came back from an Aftab Ahmed caning and a potential middle-order explosion to restrict Bangladesh to 236. In 49.1 overs of see-saw cricket, they seized the impetus, lost it for a brief period but came back to wrest it and leave themselves with the lowest target of the five-match series thus far.
Regardless of the fact that Bangladesh had lost both their openers with only 13 on the board, Aftab tore into the bowling. Like his manic 40 off 25 balls in the second match, he began with a carefree attitude, carving three fours to different parts of the ground in four deliveries. Two sixes - a punch over long-off and a merciless smash out of the ground over long-on - stood out as Aftab raced to 50 off just 31 balls and swung the momentum Bangladesh's way.
Overall, Zimbabwe's bowling was a mixed bag but it did the trick. Ireland tried too much too soon in his first match of the series, but once he figured out that line and length was better than pace, he was a handful. Mazakadza was preferred at the death despite his inexperience in that role but did well to pick up career-best figures of 3 for 39.
Shahriar Nafees c Taylor b Mahwire 0 (4 for 1)
Tried to pull a short ball, gloved to the wicketkeeper
Javed Omar c sub (Chibhabha) b Mupariwa 6 (13 for 2)
Taken on the full and loosely tapped into the hands of cover
Aftab Ahmed b Ireland 53 (83 for 3)
Beaten all ends up by a full but slower delivery on the stumps
Mohammad Ashraful c Taylor b Masakadza 46 (174 for 4)
Tickled one going down leg, brilliant take by the wicketkeeper
Rajin Saleh c Utseya b Masakadza 54 (179 for 5)
Pulled a low full toss from outside off to midwicket, well taken
Farhad Reza run out (Sibanda) 15 (195 for 6)
Slow to respond to a sharp call, great throw caught him just on the line
Mohammad Rafique c Mupariwa b Ireland 0 (198 for 7)
In the slot and chipped down the ground into long-off's hands
Mashrafe Mortaza lbw b Ireland 2 (201 for 8)
In the blockhole, played across it, trapped right in front
Khaled Mashud run out (Masakadza/Mahwire) 11 (224 for 9)
Good stop at mid-on, indecision between the runners, and a good throw sealed it
Shahadat Hossain st Taylor b Masakadza 1 (236 for 10)
Stumped down the legside as he chased a wide and lost balance
Vusi Sibanda lbw b Razzak 14 (30 for 1)
Looked to sweep one from in front of the stumps, trapped plumb
Hamilton Masakadza c Aftan b Reza 38 (84 for 2)
Slashed a very wide delivery to backward point
Terry Duffin st Mashud b Saleh 48 (121 for 3)
Looked to sweep, dragged his foot outside the line
Stuart Matsikenyeri c Ashraful b Saleh 7 (131 for 4)
Tried to tuck one to leg but closed the bat too early, leading edge to extra-cover
Tafadzwa Mufambisi c Mashud b Shahadat 8 (151 for 5)
Nicked a wide delivery through to the wicketkeeper
Elton Chigumbara lbw b Shahadat 0 (151 for 6)
Full pitched delivery banged him on the toe in front of middle and leg
Prosper Utseya c Mashud b Shahadat 0 (151 for 7)
Hung his bat out at one on off, regulation take behind the stumps
Tawanda Mupariwa run out (Rafique) 33 (232 for 8)
Set off for a single, sent back, run out by miles
Jamie Alter is editorial assistant of Cricinfo