Vusi Sibanda brought up his second ODI hundred by hitting the winning runs that secured Zimbabwe a rare series victory, against Bangladesh in Bulawayo. Zimbabwe's seven-wicket success broke the deadlock between the sides and gave the hosts the series 2-1.
Zimbabwe's bowlers laid the foundation for the victory, operating with discipline to restrict Bangladesh to 247 for 9. Brian Vitori's two-wicket burst with the new ball gave the hosts impetus, before Tendai Chatara and Prosper Utseya bowled expert line and lengths in the middle overs. There were no bowling heroes, but a collective effort did the job.
The batting hero was undoubtedly Sibanda. He forged different types of partnerships, often played the less dominant role, and stayed until the game was won. Sibanda was stranded for an over on 99, when Sean Williams hit a boundary with five runs required, but Williams then blocked five balls and gave his partner the chance to get to his hundred. Sibanda edged the next ball for four, to move to 103 off 135 balls, and the celebrations began.
Williams' contribution to the chase was 55 off 46 balls, his second successive half-century. He gave Sibanda adequate support and put himself in line for a Test spot in the future.
The fourth-wicket stand finished off what Zimbabwe's openers had begun, with a 79-run partnership. Sibanda let Hamilton Masakadza dominate and their association produced Zimbabwe's first 50-plus opening stand since September 2011. When Masakadza was dismissed for 41 off 46 balls, the platform had been laid for the rest.
Sikandar Raza began his third ODI innings slowly, taking most of the strike during a steady 56-run stand with Sibanda. Raza made 37 off 52 balls, and though he batted quietly for most parts, the pair frustrated the visitors. Bangladesh had an opening when they removed Raza and the captain Brendan Taylor in the space of six balls, but that was their last strikes of the game.
Bangladesh's innings was remarkably different. Vitori's successive dismissals of Mohammad Ashraful and Jahurul Islam rocked the visitors in the fourth over. He got one to climb on Ashraful, who gloved a catch to gully. Jahurul played around a straighter and fuller delivery, and was bowled.
Despite recovering from those blows Bangladesh lost their way during the middle overs, when three of their senior batsmen fell without converting starts. Mushfiqur Rahim made 32 off 41 balls before holing out at deep midwicket, after adding 62 for the third wicket.
Tamim Iqbal followed soon after, playing a shot in anger after having played only one forceful shot in his 70-ball innings. He made 32 with two fours and a six, and was more circumspect than usual, but was dismissed trying to slog Chatara. Shakib also threw it away after making 18 off 23 balls, giving Williams at short fine leg an easy catch while trying to clear mid-on.
Bangladesh were 110 for 5 in the 28th over, but recovered through a 79-run stand between Nasir Hossain and Mahmudullah. Nasir made 63 off 74 balls, and after his dismissal Mahmudullah took over and scored his ninth ODI half-century. They gave their team a defendable target, but Zimbabwe's batsmen did not make too many mistakes in the chase.
The 2-1 series win was a boost to Zimbabwe after their poor showing in the Caribbean, while Bangladesh will rue their performance after impressive showings in three previous ODI competitions.