A few days too late and without a sway on the 3-2 series result, the biggest player on show was still able to bring in the largest crowd to the competition.
Shakib Al Hasan’s forceful 79 lured a 9,000-strong crowd to the Queens Sports Club by lunchtime as it helped Bangladesh to make 253-6. But the Bangladesh captain gave them little reason to cheer about once they settled under the pleasant sun as Zimbabwe folded for 160, losing by 93 runs.
It was the biggest turnout during Bangladesh’s entire tour after Zimbabwe’s winning return in Test cricket and the drama of the third ODI, when the home team took the 3-0 unassailable lead, were watched by only a few hundred people at the Harare Sports Club.
But the crowd that had plenty of children playing around the grassy banks and open spaces, started turning up from mid-morning yesterday afternoon in hope of a cracking chase in the offing as well as witnessing Brendan Taylor lift the trophy.
Much like the packed house, Shakib’s all-round effort which included two wickets, came after the horse had bolted.
His 71-ball innings, which included five boundaries and a six, resurrected another ordinary top-order performance where they slipped to 127 for five in the 30th over.
Shakib and Mahmudullah Riyad turned around another lost cause, adding 107 for the sixth wicket with Riyad hammering the same number of boundaries in his unbeaten 67-ball 60.
The duo changed the pace of their innings according to the situation and took full control by the time the Batting Powerplay was enforced. During the five-over restriction in the end, Riyad and Shakib hit all around the park, making sure the Tigers went past the 250-mark for the first time in the series.
Later, Shakib’s two quick wickets by the 18th over hindered Zimbabwe’s top-order from taking control as they have done in the previous games.
He first removed Vusi Sibanda, who threatened with two stylish sixes and five boundaries in his 44-ball 34, inducing him to miscue yet another pull shot. The more important wicket was of course Tatenda Taibu’s; the plucky wicketkeeper-batsman was trapped plumb in front for seven, the umpire’s decision coming faster than Shakib’s appeal.
It was the last straw and despite Malcolm Waller’s 51 and some more resistance by Forster Mutizwa, it was the Tigers who took home some pride from this series.
The Zimbabwe innings ended when Shafiul Islam removed Ray Price to make it 160 for nine, Keegan Meth not batting after being hit on the mouth off the last ball of the Bangladesh innings.
Meth lost two teeth and another fell off on way to the hospital after Nasir Hossain’s belter hit him flush on the mouth.
Despite the bloodshed and two losses, Zimbabwe have announced their second coming into international cricket with a successful series against a team who dominated them for the past five years.
SCORES IN BRIEF
BANGLADESH: 253 for 6 (Tamim 45, Mushfiqur 20, Shakib 79, Mahmudullah 60 not out; Meth 2-56, Price 3-51)
ZIMBABWE: 160 (Sibanda 34, Masakadza 28, Mtizwa 27, Waller 51; Shakib 2-26, Mahmadullah 3-13)
Result: Bangladesh won by 93 runs.
M-O-M: Shakib Al Hasan.
-With The Daily Star input