A destructive spell of 5-30 by debutant seamer Brian Vitori paved the way for a comfortable four-wicket win for Zimbabwe against Bangladesh in the opening game of the five-match one-day international series in Harare on Friday.
Vitori, who became the first Zimbabwean bowler to pick up five wickets in an ODI on debut, helped restrict Bangladesh to184 all out in 48.4 overs before an 86-run second-wicket stand between Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza (41) put the side firmly on course for victory.
Bangladesh relied heavily on their left-arm spinners – a supposed weakness of the Zimbabwean batsmen – but they seldom threatened to stifle the hosts with the necessary breakthroughs on a flat wicket at the Harare Sports Club.
Rubel Hossain’s haul of 4-26 in 10 overs proved to be the only highlight of Bangladesh’s efforts with the ball.
After losing skipper Brendan Taylor (10), who was bowled by Sakib al Hasan, with only 20 runs on the board, Sibanda continued his good form in the Test match, hitting consecutive two boundaries off Shafiul Islam before adopting a similarly aggressive approach against Abdur Razzak.
Bangladesh momentarily threatened to get back in the game after Mahmudullah effected the run-out of Masakadza before a lively Rubel dismissed Tatenda Taibu and Craig Ervine in consecutive deliveries to reduce the hosts to 125-4.
But Sibanda calmed the nerves of the home side with a superb display of stroke-making before eventually losing his wicket to Rubel when he only four runs short of a century, but by then Zimbabwe were on the brink of taking a 1-0 lead in the series. His innings of 96 included eight boundaries and two massive sixes.
Earlier, having been sent in to bat by Zimbabwe after losing the toss, Bangladesh were reeling at 43-5 after a devastating eight-over opening spell by Brian Vitori broke the Tigers batting backbone.
Vitori started the onslaught with the wicket of Tamim Iqbal (4), who was caught at mid-on trying to pull a short ball.
Vitori went on to bowl Shahriar Nafees out for 14 runs before picking up the wickets of Mohammad Ashraful (2) and Imrul Kayes (11) in the 14th over of the innings.
Skipper Sakib and wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim initiated a mini-revival for the Tigers with a sixth-wicket partnership of 105 runs to prevent an embarrassing collapse as both notched up their half-centuries.
Sakib’s innings of 53 runs from 63 balls included just two boundaries before he lost his wicket to Masakadza while Mushfique became off-spinner Prosper Utseya’s 100th victim in ODIs after scoring 59 runs.
Abdur Razzak failed to reproduce his heroics of the second innings of the Test match when he fell to Raymond Price for a duck and Vitori capped his man-of-the-match display with Shafiul becoming his fifth wicket of the innings.
-With New Age input