SIKANDAR Raza’s second successive unbeaten century and captain Regis Chakabva’s 102 off just 75 balls fired Zimbabwe to a five-wicket win over Bangladesh to complete their first ODI cricket series win against a major team in five years at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
Raza had earlier taken 3 for 56 to help restrict the visitors to 290-9 after a blistering start, and his calculated approach in the chase, punctuated by breathtaking shots, gave a full house at the Harare Sports Club on a Sunday to remember.
Two days after his 192-run fourth-wicket stand with Innocent Kaia had taken Zimbabwe to a five-wicket win in the first ODI, Raza had the company of Chakabva while scripting another challenging chase. Chakabva made his maiden ODI hundred, which, coming up in just 73 balls, was the fastest by a Zimbabwe batter in ODIs.
Coming together at a precarious 49 for 4, Raza and Chakabva added 201 for the fifth wicket, off just 189 balls. It was only the third 200-plus stand in Zimbabwe’s ODI history, and their highest for the fifth wicket. Raza has now been involved in two of the three 200-plus stands.
The end came swiftly even though Chakabva fell with Zimbabwe still needing 41 to win. But debutant Tony Munyonga, after a nervous start, cracked Shoriful Islam for a four and two sixes in the 47th over, after Taskin Ahmed dropped him at the start of the over. The over ended with Munyonga dropped once again, at point.
Zimbabwe started their 291-run chase worse than how they started their 304-run chase in the first ODI. Hasan Mahmud had both Takudzwanashe Kaitano and Kaia caught behind within the first three overs. Wessly Madhevere was lbw to Mehidy Hasan Miraz, before Taijul Islam made it 49 for 4 when Tadiwanashe Marumani was caught in the covers in the left-arm spinner’s first over.
But Raza stepped up once again. He hardly allowed the Bangladesh bowlers to settle despite the required rate hovering around the 7.50 mark as early as the 24th over. Raza first attacked Mahmud, Bangladesh’s best bowler till that point, with a four and a six in the 20th over.
Raza and Chakabva went after Shoriful Islam next, taking him for three boundaries in the 25th over. In the next over, however, Bangladesh missed a run-out opportunity, with the bowler Mehidy Hasan Miraz failing to connect the ball with the stumps at the non-striker’s end, after the throw came in from short fine-leg. There was a huge cheer when Raza walked back to the crease upon finding out that he was not out.
Rather than taking their time to gather their wits for a few overs, Raza and Chakabva followed up the run-out scare by hitting three sixes in the next three overs. Then Chakabva brought the crowd to their feet when he smashed Taskin Ahmed for four fours in a row in the 30th over.
The pair reached their individual hundreds in the 43nd over. Raza rushed for his umpteenth brace and completed his Michael-Slater-like celebration. Two balls later, Chakabva smashed Mahmud for a six high over midwicket. His celebration was one of relief.
Zimbabwe more or less dominated the whole game. They kept Bangladesh on a leash through the middle overs, ensuring they didn’t reach 300 despite productive first and third powerplays. Captain Tamim Iqbal struck ten fours and a six in a 45-ball 50 as the visitors raced to 62 without loss in their first ten overs. The left-hander timed the ball sweetly square of the wicket on the off side, including an upper-cut six off Brad Evans. Tamim also drove the ball well down the ground, but his innings was cut short when his hoick of Tanaka Chivanga found the square-leg fielder.
Tamim’s dismissal slowed down the Bangladesh innings. Despite a 50-run third-wicket stand between Mushfiqur Rahim and Najmul Hossain Shanto, their run rate hovered around the 5.5 mark. Mahmudullah’s 82-run fifth wicket stand with Afif Hossain recovered the pace of the innings, but they had to play within themselves to an extent with the danger of a wicket exposing Bangladesh’s long tail too early.
Mahmudullah, however, managed to strike three sixes in the last four overs as Bangladesh made 84 runs in their last 10. It was five less than they had scored in the same phase of the first ODI, but there was a bit more thud in the way they batted in the last few overs.
Zimbabwe’s offspinners gave them five crucial wickets, between Raza’s 3 for 56 and part-timer Madhevere’s 2 for 40. Victor Nyauchi and Tanaka Chivanga bowled well within themselves, though Luke Jongwe and Brad Evans went wicketless. But the home side could afford those errors since Raza and Chakabva had them covered, well and truly. — ESPNcricnifo.