Bangladesh hold nerve to take series
Bangladesh 246 for 9 (Ahmed 92, Rahim 57, Mpofu 3-52) beat Zimbabwe 244 for 8 (Chigumbura 77*, Chibhabha 54, Williams 51, Mortaza 3-52) by one wicket
Overs were never an issue and Abdur Razzak held his nerve to pierce the off side with a drive against Elton Chigumbura after Chris Mpofu's three wickets had given Zimbabwe a chance of coming back from dead. In the end, however, Bangladesh held on and just about deserved the latest series success against their main rivals, although the gap has closed since the last meeting.
Once again bringing two sides together who play fallible cricket made for a thrilling finish. Bangladesh were on the back foot after Chigumbura slammed 77 off 57 balls, launching seven sixes, then two early wickets left them stuttering on 40 for 2.
However, Ahmed and Rahim took control and added 132 for the third wicket. Ahmed launched sixes off Ed Rainsford and Mpofu as the hundred arrived in the 18th over and his own half-century came off just 44 balls. He had a couple of close calls, dropped at long-on off a no-ball and almost run out when Friday Kasteni threw from short leg, but was set for a century until being cut off by a poor lbw decision which was too high.
Rahim's effort was a calmer affair, his first ODI half-century coming from 78 balls, as he took the chance handed him by Khaled Mahmud's injury. But his dismissal, needlessly advancing down the track at Prosper Utseya, gave Zimbabwe a sniff. Mpofu, who was outstanding throughout, caused the panic as Saqibul Hasan misjudged a slower ball and looped a return catch, then Tushar Imran was trapped half forward first ball.
Mashrafe Mortaza clubbed a couple of boundaries before flicking at Rainsford outside off stump and Tapash Baiysa lost his nerve, trying to heave Mpofu over the infield but only finding mid-on. It was down to the last pair when Habibul Basher was run out backing up as Razzak's drive clipped Mpofu's fingers. After Anthony Ireland bowled a searching maiden Razzak drove the winning boundary, allowing Bangladesh to continue their hold over Zimbabwe.
But the match swayed both ways after Basher asked Zimbabwe to bat first. The openers fell cheaply during Mortaza's opening spell leaving Chamu Chibhabha and Sean Williams to resurrected the innings with their second and first fifties of the series respectively.
Both struck five boundaries before the spinners hit back. Williams fell to a soft return catch against Saqibul then Chibhabha top-edged a catch to Mortaza. Shahadat Hossain returned to remove the debutant Kasteni, bowled round his legs as he was deceived by a slower ball. Mortaza added his third wicket as Taylor dragged on an attempted pull and Utseya was run out by the cover sweeper.
But with the innings going into free-fall Chigumbura showed the batting skills that make him a priceless allrounder for Zimbabwe. He slammed Baisya into the sightscreen then took Razzak over long on. His fun didn't end there, as he carted two more maximums in the final over with one over extra cover and another straight down the ground. Zimbabwe had the momentum at the change of innings but couldn't quite make it count, although it came right down to the wire.