Shakib Al Hasan, the Bangladesh captain, blamed his misfiring batting line-up for his side's latest setback in Zimbabwe as they slumped to their second straight defeat in the five-match ODI series. Left-arm seamer Brian Vitori bagged his second five-for in as many ODIs as Bangladesh crumbled to a sub-par 188, thought it was a recovery of sorts from 58 for 6. Zimbabwe reached the target in under 45 overs, losing just three wickets in a chase that was mostly a stroll.
"We didn't perform well at all, especially our top five batsmen," Shakib said after the game. "Nobody scored runs. When you're playing an ODI game and the top five are not scoring any runs, it is hard for the team to come back and put a good total on the board."
The top-order collapse was a worryingly recurrent theme for the visitors, having slumped to 43 for 5 in the previous game. Shakib believed it was a mental issue, as opposed to a question of talent. "We have to ask everyone separately what's going through their mind," he said. "It has nothing to do with their technique, but their mindset."
"They are bowling well there's no doubt. But we are capable of handling this bowling … It will show how tough we are, if we can bounce back; Otherwise we are not tough enough. We are not too soft to give up so easily."
That Bangladesh reached 188 was down to a strong rearguard from debutant Nasir Hossain, who made 63 batting at No. 8 - an effort that his captain appreciated. "He played very well, given it was his first game," Shakib said. "Normally there's pressure in that situation … when he got to bat we were 58 for 6. He played a good innings from that position. I hope he contributes [consistently], it was a special innings."
Zimbabwe have been the better team by far throughout the tour, starting with the one-off Test that they won in impressive fashion, despite Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal writing off their attack and terming the impressive Vitori "ordinary".
"I think you should ask the person who made this comment," Shakib said when asked for his take on the "ordinary" verdict. "I think they're well prepared and they're better than us in all three departments."
Vitori has been Bangladesh's bugbear since the first innings of the Test, even before Tamim made his comment, following up an impressive Test debut with an unprecedented brace of five-fors in his first two ODIs. No bowler had taken more than eight wickets in his first two ODIs before Vitori's feat, and his captain Brendan Taylor was effusive in praise.
"It is an amazing start," Taylor said after the game. "He is a new world-record holder. He is a great guy to work with, a very hungry cricketer.
"I am slightly surprised [by Bangladesh's collapses]. They bat to No. 7 but credit must go to the bowlers. We didn't give them many opportunities to score. Bowlers stuck to their guns after they got hit for boundaries."
Despite his side's dominance in the first two games, Taylor refused to take things lightly. "I remember in 2005 we were 2-0 up and then lost 3-2," he said. "We're not expecting a series win straight away. We know they will try to bounce back but we have to be a step ahead.
"Tuesday's a massive game. If we lose there it is 2-1 and Bangladesh have a chance to get back in the series. We'll go away tomorrow and regroup in a team meeting. There are not too many things we're concerned about. We will stay humble and when it comes game time, we want to be 100% up for it."