The margin may seem rather narrow, but in fact Zimbabwe dominated the match almost from start to finish; even when the Bangladeshi sixth wicket recorded a century partnership and when Zimbabwe lost three quick wickets in the middle order, they had already established such a strong position that they were always likely to win. As in the Test match, their inexperience meant they did not win as easily as they should have done.
Zimbabwe won the toss on a bright sunny morning and decided to put Bangladesh in to bat on a greenish pitch. They could scarcely have made a better start with the ball. Chris Mpofu and Vitori bowled superbly right from the start, pitching a good full length and bowling very straight, backed by very tight fielding, and the Bangladeshi batsmen found themselves totally pinned down. In fact the score was only 7, in the sixth over, when Tamim Iqbal, frustrated, attempted to pull a ball from Vitori that was not short enough, and lobbed a catch to mid-on; he made 3 off 16 balls.
Wickets continued to fall as the batsmen sought in vain to break the shackles. Vitori was the man who took the wickets, the first four, but Mpofu bowled superbly with no luck. When the latter was replaced by Elton Chigumbura, the new bowler immediately took a wicket, reducing Bangladesh to 43 for five after 17 overs. But then came the fightback, as Mushfiqur Rahim came in to partner Shakib Al Hasan. At this point Zimbabwe seemed rather to lose the plot; the back-up bowling was fair enough but less deadly, and some of the fielders seemed to run out of adrenaline and there were several misfields. Tatenda Taibu, who has not been at his best behind the stumps, badly missed stumping Shakib when he had 17, and this proved an expensive miss. The 100 came up in the 30th over as the batsmen worked the ball around the field against the spinners. Both batsmen passed 50, Shakib off 59 balls and Rahim off 75.
The partnership was eventually broken when it reached 105, when Shakib drilled a catch off the accurate but part-time bowler Hamilton Masakadza to short extra cover, where a very sharp catch was picked up by Prosper Utseya, who was guilty of several misfields during the innings. He made 53 off 63 balls, and Rahim soon followed, holing out at long-on off it for 59 off 91 balls. It was the bowler’s 100th ODI wicket, following Heath Streak and Grant Flower for Zimbabwe, and reduced Bangladesh to 161 for seven in the 44th over. Vitori came back to take a fifth wicket, finishing with five for 30, a record for a Zimbabwean on his ODI debut. He is also only the seventh bowler to take five one debut. Mpofu conceded only 20 runs in 8.4 overs, a magnificent effort and it was quite unfair that he should be the only bowler to fail to take a wicket. The Bangladesh innings ended in the penultimate over for 184, but Zimbabwe should not have allowed them to get anywhere near that total after such a good start.
When Zimbabwe batted, Brendan Taylor and Sibanda were at such ease against the seamers that after three overs had been bowled for 20 runs, Shakib brought on his spinners, Abdur Razzak and himself. It proved a wise move, as he drew Taylor forward and bowled him through the gate for 8. Sibanda, however, looked in superb form, and when Masakadza joined him he began stroking the ball all around the field, bringing up the 50 in the ninth over. Masakadza, not to be outdone, swung a ball from Shakib for six over midwicket. It seemed that a supremely confident Zimbabwe was racing to a big victory.
Sibanda ran to his fifty off 48 balls, and the team 100 came up in only the 19th over. The score reached 112 when Masakadza, in one of those mix-ups which tend to happen when Sibanda is one of the batsmen, was run out by a direct hit from midwicket; he made 41 and the partnership had added 86 runs. Sibanda, unperturbed by this, hit 11 off the next over from Mahmadullah, including a six over long-on. Taibu was bowled without scoring by a superb delivery from Rubel Hossain that jagged back on him and knocked out his middle stump; 124 for three. Next ball was a similar one to the left-handed Craig Ervine, who edged it to the keeper, and suddenly Bangladesh were back in the game.
Sibanda still continued to play his own way, though, playing his strokes superbly, and with him now was Forster Mutizwa, brought into the team in place of Tino Mawoyo. Then, when he reached the eighties and began to stare a century in the face, he slowed down and lost his fluency. He suddenly broke free to drive a ball from Suhrawadi Shuvo for six, and a single took him to 90, with 25 still needed for victory. But on 96 he miscued a pull against Hossain and lobbed a catch to midwicket; he faced only 102 balls and hit eight fours and two sixes. Ten runs were still required for victory, and the batsmen made very heavy weather of them, losing Chigumbura for 4 and taking another five overs before crawling over the finishing line. Hossain took four for 27 in his ten overs, and had he been brought on earlier, Bangladesh might have turned the tables.