Despite a late wobble, Zimbabwe chased a below-par total with relative ease after Brian Vitori sliced through the Bangladesh top order to become the first Zimbabwe bowler to take five wickets on ODI debut. The chase was anchored by a mature innings from Vusi Sibanda, who coped easily with Bangladesh's arsenal of left-arm spinners and made sure that the late strikes from Rubel Hossain were in vain.
Bangladesh's bowlers were inconsistent early on and they posed little threat to the Zimbabwe batsmen, in contrast to the way Zimbabwe's bowlers had executed their plans when the visitors batted. Led by debutant left-arm seamer Vitori, Zimbabwe restricted Bangladesh to 184 on a flat pitch. Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim put on a century partnership for the sixth-wicket to resuscitate the innings, which stood on the brink of implosion at 43 for 5 in the 17th over, but it did not do enough to post a defendable total.
With Chris Mpofu, Vitori made exceptional use of the early bounce on offer and bowled a tight line, offering no width to the Bangladesh batsmen. That forced them to be circumspect in their approach, refusing to move their feet or look for singles, and they made a slow start to their innings.
After two overs of teasing swing, Vitori offered Tamim Iqbal a short ball and the Bangladesh opener took the bait with a horribly timed pull that was safely taken by Elton Chigumbura at mid-on. Vitori bowled an extended eight-over spell and earned regular reward. Shahriar Nafees was bowled with a delivery that pitched on middle and uprooted leg stump as he tried to drive down the ground. Mohammad Ashraful and Imrul Kayes departed in the 14th over. Ashraful took out his frustration on a short ball that went straight to Mpofu at long leg and Kayes was trapped lbw with a full delivery that came into him and thudded into the front pad.
Bangladesh continued in free-fall and even Chigumbura, who was the least threatening of the bowlers, picked up a wicket, when Mahmudullah slapped a full and wide delivery to backward point. With the change bowlers on, Bangladesh were allowed to relax and Shakib and Mushfiqur approached their innings as their team-mates should have. They rotated the strike well and took on the spin pair of Propser Utseya and Ray Price, making good use of the sweep shot.
Shakib should have been stumped on 17, when he danced down the track to an Utseya delivery but Tatenda Taibu was not able to get the bails off in time. He capitalised on his lifeline and continued scoring at a good rate all around the wicket to notch up his half century. Mushfiqur provided solid support, puncturing the gaps in a spread field.
The pair gathered runs at will and medium-pacer Hamilton Masakadza was brought on in the 36th over to break the partnership. Three overs later he removed Shakib, who tried to force one through the covers but could only pop it up to Utseya.
With Shakib gone, Mushfiqur tried to accelerate but fell in his first attempt, giving Utseya his 100th ODI wicket. The tail was disposed off cheaply, giving Zimbabwe's batsmen a fairly simple task on a pitch that got better for batting.
Zimbabwe set off at a canter, dealing with the first three overs of seam bowling with disdain, before the spinners - Abdur Razzak and Shakib - came on. Shakib had success with his second delivery, bowling his opposite number, Brendan Taylor, with an arm ball that snuck between bat and pad.
The left-arm spin didn't frighten Sibanda, who played with characteristically nifty footwork and struck two straight drives in the next over. That prompted Shakib to make a third bowling change and bring on Suhrawadi Shuvo inside 10 overs.
Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza settled comfortably, ran well between the wickets and scored at a rapid rate, dealing with everyone from Shakib to Mahmudullah with ease. They looked set to take Zimbabwe home with minimal fuss but a little indifference crept in and Masakadza was run out. He hesitated for a single that his partner was unsure of, and by the time Masakadza stopped, he was halfway down the pitch and could not make it back in time.
That opened the door for Bangladesh to strike back and Rubel stepped up. He was brought back on after just one over upfront and, with the ball just starting to reverse swing, took two wickets in two balls. Taibu was bowled by a ripper that swung into him and Craig Ervine got a fine edge through to Mushfiqur.
Bangladesh showed the right intent by taking the bowling Powerplay but could not prise open the door any further. Sibanda and Forster Mutizwa consolidated, even though Mutizwa looked uncomfortable against the spin at first and Sibanda failed to control the pull off Rubel.
Sibanda's strength against left-arm spin propelled him towards a century as he struck a straight six off Shuvo, but he threw his hundred away with a hurried stroke that looped straight to square leg when he was on 96. That left Mutizwa and Chigumbura with 10 runs and ample time to win the match, and although Chigumbura was out before it was over, a measured Mutizwa took Zimbabwe home.