Bangladesh’s wretched tour of Zimbabwe reached its exclamation point on Tuesday as the team crashed to a five-run defeat at the Harare Sports to surrender the five-match ODI series 3-0.
The previously unthinkable prospect of a series whitewash now looms ominously over the horizon for Bangladesh amidst growing talks of a crisis which showed no signs of abating as the Tigers failed to chase down a target of 251.
Mushfiqur Rahim played the innings of his life to score 101, his maiden ODI century, but even that was not enough to rescue the series the Bangladesh. Zimbabwe burst into celebration when Vusi Sibanda caught Mushfique of Christopher Mpofu to end Bangladesh’s topsy-turvy run chase with five balls still left and claim a rare ODI series victory.
Bangladesh looked like ending their losing streak until two wickets in the space of three balls in the 46th and 47th overs left them in total disarray.
Mahmudullah and Nasir Hossain had to share most of the blame as they left the team in a precarious situation after throwing away their wickets completely unnecessarily of the bowling of Brian Vitori and Christopher Mpofu with the team needing only 22 runs in more than three overs.
Mushfiqur was still there to lead the chase but Shafiul Islam and Rubel Hossain were simply not good enough to give him the much needed strike and the team paid the price for their poor batting skills having been bundled out for 245 runs in 49.1 overs.
Earlier, a third-wicket stand of 142 runs between Tatenda Taibu and Hamilton Masakadza set the platform for Zimbabwe to post a respectable total of 250 and set them on course for a series win.
After winning the toss, skipper Sakib al Hasan’s decision to bowl first was soon vindicating by opening bowlers Shafiul Islam and Nazmul Hossain, playing his first match of the series, who utilised the conditions in the opening session to their favour, making it difficult for the Zimbabwean batsmen to score their runs as freely as they had in the opening encounters.
Shafiul soon had a wicket to show for his efforts when he picked up the wicket of Brendan Taylor (4) before Rubel Hossain dismissed the dangerous Vusi Sibanda for 27 to put the home side firmly on the backfoot at 39-2 in the 14th over.
However, this set the tone for the Zimbabwean revival led by former skipper Taibu who top-scored with 83 and Masakadza (74) who compensated for a circumspect start to the innings by launching a counter-attack to take Zimbabwe to 181 before Masakadza was bowled by Rubel.
A quickfire 31 runs of 21 balls by Elton Chigumbura took Zimbabwe to 250 but Bangladesh will rue the three dropped catches of Taibu, on 16 and twice on 41, which could have significantly lowered the target.
Bangladesh’s run chase got off to a steady start with Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes managing to successfully negotiate the bowling of Brian Vitori for the first time in the series as they accumulated 50 runs for the opening stand.
Tamim looked particularly solid until a freakish run out ended his innings on 44. Bangladesh were still in the game thanks to a 61-run fifth-wicket stand between debutant Shubhagoto Hom and Mushfique.
Shubhagoto was out for 32 runs but Mushfique took the game right down to the wire with his brave innings until the moments of madness involving Mahmudullah and Nasir allowed Zimbabwe to come back in the game.
This was Bangladesh’s first series defeat to Zimbabwe since 2006 when they lost 3-2.
-With New Age input