Tamim Iqbal's explosive 95 blew away Zimbabwe on a slow Chittagong pitch on which the visitors had limped to 188 for 6, giving Bangladesh a six-wicket victory and a sixth-consecutive series win over Zimbabwe. On a track where the rest of the batsmen managed ten boundaries, Tamim clattered seven sixes and five fours after starting cautiously and surviving some anxious moments. Despite three of the top five batsmen contributing 13 runs between them, and Junaid Siddique taking 105 deliveries to reach a half-century, Tamim's charge allowed Bangladesh to canter to victory as they took the series 3-1.
He had curbed his natural attacking instincts after Imrul Kayes fell to the fourth delivery of the chase, before opening up with a pull over square leg off Chris Mpofu in the seventh over. Mpofu's next over was an example of how the chase progressed - in sporadic spurts amid fortuitous let-offs. Tamim went for his favourite heave down the ground off the first delivery, but got an inside-edge that went just past the stumps for a boundary. The third delivery was lifted cleanly over long-off for six, before Mpofu made a mess of a straightforward chance as Tamim chipped a slower one in the air.
Tamim continued to take his chances, treating the spinners with disdain and repeatedly targeting the area between deep midwicket and long-off. He also played-and-missed in between, highlighting the slow nature of the pitch though it had quickened up a touch compared to when Zimbabwe were batting. Flicks and drives just cleared the infield, but what stood out in Tamim's effort was the urgency with which he approached the modest target, in stark contrast to Zimbabwe's batsmen who had crawled at around two an over for more than half their innings.
Siddique's effort was far scratchier as he struggled to find the gaps. But Tamim's briskness at the other end meant he could get away with working the ball around. Elton Chigumbura rotated his bowlers but it didn't have any effect on Tamim, who reached his half-century in the 20th over off 61 balls. Zimbabwe didn't help themselves as Tamim was left off once again, Tatenda Taibu failing to catch the bottom-edge off Ray Price. Tamim responded by moving from 50 to 95 in 34 deliveries, smashing five more sixes before falling while attempting yet another six, holing out to Graeme Cremer who took a diving catch running in from the deep midwicket boundary. By then, however, Bangladesh needed only 50 off 21 overs.
Taibu and Craig Ervine had earlier put on Zimbabwe's highest partnership of the series but their progress was painfully slow, before a late charge in the batting Powerplay took the visitors to 188 on a surface that didn't turn much. Only nine boundaries were hit - six of them in the final six overs - partly because of the low and slow nature of the surface and the damp outfield, but largely due to the lack of intent Zimbabwe displayed.
The first boundary came in the 24th over when Taibu stepped out and lifted Naeem
Islam over mid-off. The batsmen showed more purpose after that and the duo had added 95 before Ervine fell, going for another reverse-sweep and getting a top edge that Mushfiqur Rahim gobbled up. Taibu, who made his first half-century of the series, continued to hustle between the wickets. From 137 for 4 after 44 overs, Zimbabwe took 42 off the batting Powerplay, using the lofted shot over the infield to good effect.
Zimbabwe's downward spiral had continued in the morning after Chigumbura opted to bat, and their confused state was typified by some mindless running. Bangladesh usually rely on their spinners to contain the runs but today their quicks, Mashrafe Mortaza and Shafiul Islam, did that job by being on target right from the start.
Zimbabwe helped Bangladesh with repeated attempts at self-destruction, the first of which came as early as the first legitimate delivery of the match, also the first free-hit of the series. Brendan Taylor pushed a full swinging delivery to extra cover and rushed more than halfway down the pitch before he glanced at Hamilton Masakadza, who was rightly rooted at the non-striker's end. Suhrawadi Shuvo had already swooped down on the ball, and waited for an instant before aiming at the striker's stumps and scoring a direct hit.
Mortaza deserved some rewards for his efforts, and soon trapped Masakadza and Dabengwa leg-before. Zimbabwe had slipped to 21 for 3, and the 11th over was already on. They never really recovered after that, and Tamim's blistering knock in his first series after wrist surgery shut them out completely.