UCB Series, 4th ODI in Bulawayo: Bangladesh 203 for 4 (Tamim 61, Shakib 39*) beat Zimbabwe 199 (Taylor 106, Rubel 4-31) by six wickets.
Zimbabwe lost to a spirited Bangladeshi side by six wicket, thanks in a main to Rubel Hossain and some very attacking fielding from the visitors. Captain Brendan Taylor scored a well deserved century but this was not enough to change the outcome of the match.
The match is a consolation win, also avoiding a series white wash for the Tigers as Zimbabwe have already won the series 3-1 with one more game to play on Sunday.
Bangladesh, as in the third match, won the toss and put Zimbabwe in to bat, although the flat pitch on a warm sunny day was not likely to plant anticipation in the heart of any bowler. Despite some disorganization on the part of the local board, the crowd at the start was larger than it had been for any of the Harare matches, and it continued to grow during the day. Zimbabwe omitted Craig Ervine and Vitori, the latter with a leg strain, and brought in Malcolm Waller while restoring Raymond Price.
Zimbabwe enjoyed a good opening stand of 40 before Vusi Sibanda drove outside the off stump to Shafiul Islam and was caught at the wicket for 18, in the ninth over. Hamilton Masakadza stayed in a while without scoring before being dismissed in controversial circumstances: he swept hard at a ball from Mahmadullah well down the leg side and, on the lone appeal of the wicketkeeper, was given out caught at the wicket by the local umpire Owen Chirombe. With no referral option, there was nothing the batsman could do but trudge reluctantly back to the pavilion. The situation grew worse when Taibu called for a risky run and was sent back, but was run out for 8. Zimbabwe were 69 for three in the 18th over. Forster Mutizwa, at last having a chance to play a decent innings, fell to a beautifully flighted and turning delivery from Shakib Al Hasan for 9; 89 for four in the 22nd over.
Another wicket now would have put Bangladesh right on top, but still batting was Brendan Taylor, who had done little in the first three matches. Once in, he showed no signs of poor form, as he put on the runs mainly by handsome drives and well-placed sweeps. He held the innings together and was now joined by Elton Chigumbura, another batsman who has done relatively little in this series. Chigumbura restrained his natural destructive – occasionally self-destructive – nature and played second fiddle to his captain admirably. Taylor went from strength to strength, hitting a flat-bat six off Nasir Hossain over cow corner and reaching his century off 131 balls. The pair added 94 before Chigumbura, with only 31 of those, pulled a short ball straight to deep midwicket. Taylor immediately followed, skying a catch to long-on for 106 (137 balls, seven fours and a six), and the Zimbabwe innings was faltering again at 184 for six in the 44th over. It was a disappointing end to one of Taylor’s finest innings.
Malcolm Waller, was a good man in such a situation, and immediately glided a four and pulled a six – only to be out for 12, unusually hitting his wicket as he attempted another pull. The tail seemed utterly out of their depth against Rubel Hossain, whose superb reverse swing cleaned them up in no time. The last four wickets fell for only three runs, making the total 199 with ten balls to spare, and Hossain’s final spell took four wickets for only five runs. Bangladesh were hot favourites to win their first match of the series now.
When Bangladesh went in, Chris Mpofu began as if determined to blast out the batsmen with bouncers, but he was quite out of control and his first two balls were wides. A difficult chance was missed at midwicket, but Imrul Kayes smashed his fifth legal delivery for a remarkable straight six. Tamim Iqbal joined in by attacking Kyle Jarvis, and the first two overs went for 24 runs. Some of the strokes were little more than bat thrown at ball, but it was working. When it came to fighting fire with fire Bangladesh were well in front – for a short period, at least - and this was the true Bangladeshi batting flair unseen before on this tour. Vitori was sorely missed.
46 were on the board in only the fifth over when Kayes – 28 off 20 balls – had one hit too many and hammered a catch straight at mid-off. But Junaid Siddique continued to follow the team policy and lashed his first ball over the covers for four. He ran up 14 off 19 balls but, bogged down by Prosper Utseya, went on a big hit and Jarvis held on to a huge skier beyond extra cover; 72 for two after 10 overs. Mpofu, to his credit, had tightened up and making the batsmen take risks to hit him.
Nobody could stop Tamim from reaching his fifty off 35 balls. Price was now bowling in tandem with Utseya, but they too were attacked, until the drink interval. Strangely, afterwards the bowlers began to restrain the batsmen, and Tamim, attempting to sweep a ball from Price, was trapped lbw for 61 (53 balls). When Mushfiqur Rahim (16) drove a catch to extra cover to make the total 129 for four, Zimbabwe could see a glimmer of hope.
But at this point Shuvagoto Hom joined Shakib Al Hasan and, playing a wise game and taking no undue risks, the pair steadily accumulated the necessary runs. Hom again showed great calm and competence in the middle order, and the ability to score freely without taking risks, while Shakib did his usual job for his side. Zimbabwe will need to lift themselves again for the final match on Sunday, with or without Vitori.