Bangladesh 200 for 2 (Sarkar 62*, Das 59, Madhevere 1-15) beat Zimbabwe 152 all out (Kamunhukamwe 28, Rahman 3-32, Islam 3-34) by 48 runs
Bangladesh extended their dominance over Zimbabwe with a 48-run win in the first of two T20 internationals at the Shere Bangla Stadium. The match followed a similar script to that set down in the ODIs: Bangladesh scored heavily at the top, bruised Zimbabwe further at the death, and then shut the match down with the ball as the visitors' top order collapsed in a heap.
Zimbabwe's problems started at the toss, when Sean Williams called the coin correctly but then decided that his team would once again bowl first, having conceded scores of 321, 322 and 322 (in just 43 overs) during the ODIs doing just that. That decision put a bowling group that is badly missing the skills and experience of Tendai Chatara and Kyle Jarvis under immediate pressure once again.
Bangladesh, meanwhile, jumped at the chance to bat Zimbabwe out of the game with another imposing total. Mustafizur Rahman then led the way with the ball, striking in every spell, while Aminul Islam was also gifted three easy wickets even as he repeatedly missed his lengths in the middle overs. Bangladesh never lost control of the game, and the result was settled long before Carl Mumba's tail-end swiping was brought to an end with an over unused.
Another record broken
Fresh from their record-breaking effort in Sylhet, where they batted Zimbabwe out of the match with a stand of 292 - Bangladesh's highest for any wicket in ODIs - Liton Das and Tamim Iqbal were at it again in Dhaka. In fact, so quickly were they into their groove it was almost as if their partnership on Friday night had never ended and they progressed in a fashion that must now seem all too familiar to Zimbabwe's beleaguered bowling attack.
After a quick sighter first up, Das cracked the second and third balls he faced for 10 runs and though he bowled with good pace, Mumba's lines were too erratic to keep either of the in-form batsmen quiet for long. Donald Tiripano started well to concede just three runs in his first over, but then his radar also went awry and Das cashed in on a couple of freebies. A fierce pick-up over deep square leg in Chris Mpofu's first over brought a second six for Das, and Bangladesh cruised through the powerplay at close to 10 an over. Together the pair ticked smoothly past yet another record, this time for Bangladesh's opening partnership in T20Is, and a century stand was within their grasp when Zimbabwe finally got some relief.
Raza's googly does the trick
Sikandar Raza is best known for his dynamic, hard-hitting batting in the middle order, but his offspin has come increasingly to the fore in recent years - so much so that he's ranked in the top 10 in the ICC's ODI allrounder rankings. Less heralded than his offbreaks are his occasional legbreaks, a variation he works hard at in the nets but has never really profited from in international competition. Even more rare is the sight of a Raza googly. Indeed, it may have been exhibited for the very first time during a game this evening, and it brought an immediate reward with the wicket of Das.
Das misread the variation to be out lbw for 59 in the 13th over, and Zimbabwe's spinners generally did a decent job of getting their team back into the match after the weighty opening stand. Wesley Madhevere's first ball was spanked back over his head for six by Iqbal, but he bit back in his next over to have the opener caught in the covers off a sliced drive. With Sean Williams also weathering Bangladesh's batting assault competently, the nine overs that Zimbabwe's spinners bowled after the powerplay leaked just 66 runs and brought two wickets.
Soumya's honeymoon return
Before tonight, Soumya Sarkar had scored just one T20I fifty in the space of 48 games spread out over five years and in his last ten innings had crossed into double figures just three times. He also had a bit of catching up to do, having missed the one-off Test and the ODIs which followed because of his recent wedding. His return to action was a successful one as he pressed home Bangladesh's advantage to reach a career-best 62 not out.
Sarkar entered the fray with Zimbabwe's spinners in the midst of a controlled spell, two wickets having fallen in the space of three overs for only 15 runs. His counterattack was swift. Williams was biffed over wide long on and Raza paddled very fine to put a dent in their figures, but it was the return of Zimbabwe's seamers that really spurred Sarkar on.
Mpofu's second over lasted for nine balls, costing 22 runs, though it did also bring the wicket of Mushfiqur Rahim. But Sarkar motored swiftly on at the other end, racing through the 30s with a four and a six off Tiripano. He saved his best for last, launching a stunning assault on Mpofu in the final over with three enormous sixes, two of them arriving back to back off the last two balls of the innings. Sarkar had scored his second T20I fifty in the process, coming just over two years since his first, and Bangladesh had set yet another record: scoring 75 runs in the last five overs, their best ever returns for that period of the game in this format.
Zimbabwe wobble at the top
A brittle top order has hobbled Zimbabwe during the limited-overs leg of this tour, and once again their chase was as good as scuppered as they wilted inside the powerplay. Brendan Taylor has endured his worst-ever trip to Bangladesh with a high score of 17 across six innings in three different formats. He was out for just 1 tonight, tamely flapping a length ball to midwicket in an almost exact repeat of his dismissal on Friday.
Craig Ervine's return to the playing XI made no impact as he was pinned in front of his stumps for single figures by Mustafizur Rahman, and when Madhevere was quickly run out Zimbabwe were three down inside the powerplay with the required rate ballooning to almost 12. They never recovered. Some merry hitting from the lower order saved some of Zimbabwe's blushes, but it was all academic after another failure by the senior batsmen: the top six contributed just 71 runs in total.