AN all-round effort has helped Bangladesh to pull off a tight chase in the first Twenty20 International against Zimbabwe and take a 1-0 lead in the series.
The Tigers chased down Zimbabwe’s 163 for 7, thanks to a steely Shakib Al Hasan (20 off 13 balls) cameo at the Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium in Khulna on Friday.
Hamilton Masakadza (79 off 53) had equaled his own score of Zimbabwe’s highest in the shortest format before a comedy of errors in the field let the Africans down.
Sabbir Rahman anchored Bangladesh in the mid-overs with a fine 36-ball 46. Mushfiqur Rahim (26) played a good hand before Shakib launched a late assault to get the hosts over the line with eight balls to spare.
Although Soumya Sarkar (7) walked back early, Tamim Iqbal (29 off 24 balls) gave Bangladesh a good platform.
After Tamim went back in the hutch skying Graeme Cremer in the seventh over, Sabbir took charge and kept the scoreboard ticking.
Bangladesh’s experimentation with Shuvagata Hom Chowdhury failed when he was bowled by Sean Williams for just 6.
Sabbir and Mushfiq then steadied the ship and put crucial 44 runs on the scoreboard to take the side closer to the win.
The partnership was highlighted with regular strike rotation and timely boundaries, something Bangladesh batsmen have lacked in the T20s.
Their dismissals in quick succession raised Zimbabwe’s hopes of a fightback but a flurry of misfields, overthrows, and wayward bowling released the pressure.
Shakib remained calm to smash two boundaries before Luke Jongwe fired another wide delivery that went past the wicketkeeper for a boundary and sealed Zimbabwe’s fate in the 19th over.
Earlier, a late Bangladesh fightback took the sheen out of a scintillating century stand between the Zimbabwe openers.
Masakadza and Vusi Sibanda (46) shared a 101-run stand, Zimbabwe’s highest opening partnership in T20Is, after Elton Chigumbura had elected to bat.
The duo smashed 13 boundaries and four sixes between themselves. Even Shakib took a hammering, conceding 45 in 4 overs and taking just the wicket of Sibanda.
Bangladesh were disappointing in the field too. They dropped two easy catches of Masakadza and Sibanda before striking back late to stall Zimbabwe’s push for a bigger score.
The visitors lost five wickets for 13 runs in the death overs, with Mustafizur Rahman and Al-Amin Hossain taking two scalps each. – Online