SIKANDAR Raza and Innocent Kaia struck centuries as Zimbabwe recovered from a disastrous start to stun Bangladesh by five wickets in the first match of a three one-day internationals (ODI) cricket series at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
In fact, the high-flying Chevrons registered their first ODI win over Bangladesh in nine years after a memorable run chase yesterday.
After recording their first ever bilateral T20I series win at home, Zimbabwe have started the ODI series on a positive note with their fourth successful run chase of 300 or more in ODIs.
The pair of Raza and Kaia added 192 runs for the fourth wicket – breaking a 25-year old partnership record and becoming the new best for Zimbabwe against Bangladesh.
Raza and Kaia also became only the second Zimbabwean duo to score centuries in the same ODI innings. To think they actually came together when the score was 66 for 3 and the game was almost slipping away from them.
Kaia displayed a refreshing batting approach, concentrating on keeping the ball all along the ground. Still he picked up 11 fours and maintained a strike rate of 90.16 by running himself ragged for those ones and twos. He hit two two sixes over midwicket, but he never tried to out-hit the man of the moment.
Raza, recently named Player of the Series at the T20 World Cup qualifier, grabbed the game with both hands and struck 14 boundaries including six sixes, the last of which was the winning hit. He had earlier been their best bowler too, taking 1-48.
Bangladesh would rue their poor finishing with the bat as they become the fourth team in ODI history to lose a game in which they gave up only two wickets.
Fifties from Litton Das (81), Anamul Haque (73), Tamim Iqbal (62) and Mushfiqur Rahim (52*) had them sitting pretty, but scoring just 39 runs in the last five overs hurt them. It is only the third time that Bangladesh have lost a game scoring in excess of 300, and the fourth time for Zimbabwe have won one chasing 300-plus.
Things had been so different at the start of the chase. Regis Chakabva barely had any time to soak in the fact that he was the first Zimbabwean to captain, keep wicket and open the batting since Andy Flower in 1996. He chopped a Mustafizur Rahman delivery on to his leg-stump for 2. Tarisai Musakanda skied Shoriful Islam to cover in the next over, and Zimbabwe were suddenly 6 for 2.
Wessly Madhevere fended Bangladesh off, with Kaia, adding 56 runs for the third wicket. But the partnership ended disastrously when miscommunication between the two, having seen a fumble out in the deep, resulted in an entirely avoidable run-out.
That brought Zimbabwe’s match-winners together and though there were a few iffy moments – substitute Taijul Islam dropped Raza on 43, a simple chance at cover. Kaia was dropped twice in the same Shoriful over on 68 and 74 respectively – they soon settled into rhythm.
And when they brought up their 162nd run in tandem, they broke the record for Zimbabwe’s biggest ODI partnership against Bangladesh, eclipsing the Flower brothers, Andy and Grant, effort from October 1997.
Raza was the dominant one in the partnership, starting his six-hitting in the 21st over when he hammered Shoriful down the ground.
He pulled Taskin over midwicket, took a five-over break between the 25th and the 30th, then smashed Mustafizur straight back over his head to reach his fifty. He thrashed his next six off Mehidy Hasan Miraz, pulled Shoriful over midwicket for good measure and finally sealed the match with 10 balls to spare by carting Mosaddek Hossain over the ropes as well.
Luke Jongwe played an important hand (24 off 19) after Kaia got out for 110 in the 42nd over.
Tamim couldn’t find a wicket-taker among his bowlers. To make matters worse, Shoriful looks to have hurt his knee. Their gamble to go without a left-arm spinner for the first time against Zimbabwe also hurt them.
Bangladesh’s score of 303 for 2 was built around four half-centuries but it was the big partnerships that really helped them. Tamim and Litton added 119 runs, their fourth 100-plus stand as an opening pair. Tamim was the first to fifty, and shortly afterwards when he reached 57 runs, he became the first from Bangladesh to reach 8, 000 ODI runs.
After Tamim’s departure, Litton got to his seventh fifty, and suddenly got into a groove to hit a cluster of fours and a six to get to 81. But while taking a quick first run, he pulled his hamstring, and had to stretchered off after the second drinks break.
Anamul followed the openers with his first fifty for Bangladesh in almost eight years. This was also the innings in which he struck the ball the sweetest since making his comeback this year. Anamul got into the Bangladesh side with a world record 1,138 runs in the domestic List-A tournament, the Dhaka Premier League. He continued on the same vein against Zimbabwe, hitting his tenth one-day fifty in 2022, and this was his sixth in a row in this format.
Anamul added 96 runs for the second wicket with Mushfiqur Rahim, as the pair got into the last ten overs with a gung-ho approach. But after taking 51 runs between the 41st and 45th, they got only 39 runs in the last five. The Zimbabwe bowlers pulling back the scoring rate was their only success in an innings in which they took just two wickets.
This was Zimbabwe’s third highest run chase, with the top one coming 11 years ago against New Zealand in Bulawayo. This was also their second ODI win in 2022, having beat Sri Lanka in Pallekele in January this year.
Notably, this is Zimbabwe’s first win in ODIs against Bangladesh since they beat them in Bulawayo in May 2013. They had lost 19 successive ODIs to Bangladesh in between.
Zimbabwe 307 for 5 (Raza 135*, Kaia 110, Mustafizur 1-57) beat Bangladesh 303 for 2 (Litton 81, Anamul 73, Raza 1-48) by five wickets. — ESPNCricinfo.