Bangladesh convincingly sealed the battle of the minnows, thrashing Zimbabwe by 101 runs at Jaipur to end their Champions Trophy campaign on a winning note. The victory was set up thanks to a spanking unbeaten 123 by Shahriar Nafees, the left-handed opener, who carried his bat through the innings and became the first Bangladesh batsman to score two ODI hundreds. That effort lifted Bangladesh to 231, which was enough runs on the board for their army of left-arm spinners to get to work, as, apart from Brendan Taylor, none of the other batsmen threatened to mount a challenge.
It was an inconsequential match as far as the tournament is concerned, but for the two teams involved this was their last opportunity for them to salvage some pride, and it was obvious that both sides wanted to end the tournament on a high. Zimbabwe were outstanding in the field - they took a couple of superb catches, and flung themselves all over the Sawai Mansingh Stadium outfield, cutting off singles and preventing boundaries. Bangladesh were clearly second-best in that department, but they were far superior with the bat, while their bowlers bowled with impeccable discipline and control, not conceding a single wide or no ball.
Bangladesh, though, will have to thank Nafees for getting enough runs on the board. No other batsman topped 36, but Nafees held it together, first consolidating the innings after a couple of early wickets went down, and then providing the momentum as well when quick runs were needed. He survived an early chance, when Elton Chigumbura spilled a tough chance at cover when Nafees hadn't scored a run. Nafees ensured he made Zimbabwe pay for that lapse.
His start wasn't entirely assured, but once he got his eye in, Nafees executed some stunning blows. His favourite was the hoick over midwicket, with his front foot well down the pitch, the bat making a vertical arc from third man and finishing up over the right shoulder, and the ball thudding the boundary boards at midwicket and mid-on. He repeatedly meted out that treatment against Prosper Utseya as Zimbabwe's most reliable bowler leaked 51 from nine overs - with Nafees scoring 37 of those from 34 balls. And by time the fast bowlers for their second spells, Nafees was sufficiently in groove to bring off that shot against them as well. Though he flagged a bit towards the end with cramps, he still kept going, ensuring Bangladesh had enough runs on the board.
None of the other Bangladesh batsmen got many, but a couple played crucial roles. Saqibul, coming in at No.4, played a few wristy strokes en route to 36 and helped stabilise the innings, adding 86 for the third wicket with Nafees, while Habibul Bashar finally got his first runs of the tournament. He'd made two ducks in the first two games, but here he contributed a typically brisk 30, which helped build on the earlier partnership.
Razzak started the slide, coming into bowl when the Powerplays were still in operation. Keeping excellent control over line and length, he bowled dot ball after dot ball, and the pressure gradually told on the batsmen. Hamilton Masakadza was forced to sacrifice his wicket after Taylor took off for a run which was never on, Gregory Strydom had little clue against the slow stuff, while Stuart Matsikenyeri was the victim of yet another mix-up with Taylor. When Taylor himself fell soon after, overbalancing and dragging his foot outside the crease, Zimbabwe had slid to a woeful 88 for 5, and from there the result was never in doubt.
Rajin Saleh lbw b Rainsford 6 (9 for 1)
Attempted to pull and missed
Aftab Ahmed c Taylor b Ireland 3 (26 for 2)
Superb diving catch down the leg side off a glance
Saqibul Hasan c Rainsford b Kamungozi 37 (110 for 3)
Superb diving catch at backward point off a mistimed cut
Habibul Bashar b Rainsford 30 (190 for 4)
Went down the pitch to slog a straight ball and missed
Farhad Reza c Utseya b Ireland 0 (197 for 5)
Hit straight to cover
Mashrafe Mortaza c Chigumbura b Brent 6 (211 for 6)
Lofted a slower ball to deep mid-on
Chamu Chibhabha lbw b Mortaza 16 (26 for 1)
Played across a straight ball heading towards middle and leg
Hamilton Masakadza run out 2 (35 for 2)
Sacrificed his wicket after Taylor rushed out for a non-existent single
Gregory Strydom b Rafique 4 (61 for 3)
Tried to flick one which drifted in with the arm, bowled off the pads
Stuart Matsikenyeri run out 9 (78 for 4)
Refused a second run as both batsmen were stranded at the same end
Brendan Taylor st Mashud b Saqibul 52 (88 for 5)
Lunged forward, overbalanced, and couldn't make it back in time
Elton Chigumbura c & b Saqibul 27 (123 for 6)
Excellent diving catch after the batsman got a leading edge
Gary Brent c Bashar b Saqibul 10 (123 for 7)
Top-edged a sweep to midwicket
Anthony Ireland b Rafique 1 (127 for 8)
Missed a huge swipe
Prosper Utseya b Razzak 3 (130 for 9)
Another huge swipe, another miss
Tafadzwa Kamungozi b Razzak 0 (130 all out)
Late on a straight one
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo