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Clinical Tigers seal series
The mantra of putting a collective approach ahead of individual heroics paid dividends as a clinical Bangladesh clinched the three-match ODI series with a game to spare, handing Zimbabwe a comprehensive seven-wicket defeat at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury stadium in Chattogram yesterday.
Mohammad Mithun applied a devastating finishing touch as, with three runs required, he smashed a six off the first ball of the 45th over to ensure Bangladesh reached the modest 247-run target with 35 balls to spare.
Mushfiqur Rahim was unbeaten on 40 and the experienced wicketkeeper-batsman also crossed 10,000 runs across all formats in international cricket during his knock.
However, opener Imrul Kayes was surely left cursing himself after he missed the opportunity to record back-to-back centuries. He was dismissed on 90 off 111 balls with seven fours. The left-hander went for a big shot off Sikandar Raza's bowling and was caught at long off when the Tigers required just 35 runs to win.
After forming a 120-run opening stand with Mehedi Hasan Miraz in the final of the Asia Cup last month, Liton Das this time joined hands with a proper batsman in the form of Imrul and the pair added 148 runs to set the platform for the chase.
Liton was adjudged leg-before without scoring a run off the fourth ball of the innings off Kyle Jarvis only to be rescued by a review. Since then the right-hander remained compact.
Liton, who reached his fifty off 46 balls, was the aggressor and played a few delightful strokes, with his slog-swept six to leg-spinner Brandon Mavuta the highlight.
At the other end, Imrul also opened up after being watchful initially and reached his half-century off 57 balls with Bangladesh cruising towards the target.
Liton was eventually dismissed for a 73-ball 83 after smashing 12 fours and a six.
However, among all the positives there was disappointment for Fazle Rabbi, who was again dismissed for a duck to become only the fourth Bangladesh batsman to be dismissed for a duck in their first two international games.
The left-hander was deceived by the flight of a Raza delivery and came down the track. Wicketkeeper Brendan Taylor, who could not hold the ball properly, still managed to dislodge the bails in time.
Earlier Bangladesh, who took the field with an unchanged side and opted to field with the dew factor in mind, came back well with the ball after Zimbabwe looked set to post a challenging total.
After 30 overs, the visitors were on 147 for two but they lost momentum as Bangladesh conceded just 19 runs without conceding a single boundary in the last five overs of the innings, which also yielded three wickets. The bowlers also sent down 155 dot balls overall, which played a crucial part.
Pace-bowling all-rounder Mohammad Saifuddin, who struck a fifty in the first ODI, bagged three wickets for 45 runs. Mustafizur Rahman also played his part and kept things tight in the death overs, picking up the wicket of Peter Moor.
The lack of partnerships was the biggest reason for Zimbabwe's downfall and a 77-run third-wicket stand between Taylor and Sean Williams was their highest.
Skipper Hamilton Masakadza was the first to depart when a tempting, full-pitched Saifuddin delivery shaped away before kissing the outside edge to have Masakadza caught behind on 14. Mehedi then removed his partner Cephas Zhuwao for 20.
Williams and Taylor then consolidated the innings, the latter reaching his first fifty in six games.
However, in his attempt to accelerate, Taylor went for a rather fanciful reverse sweep and was trapped leg before by Mahmudullah Riyad after scoring a team-high 75 off 73 balls, which included nine fours and a six.
Williams soon became Saifuddin's second victim after scoring 47. He edged to Mushfiqur, handing the wicketkeeper-batsman his 200th career dismissal.
Sikandar Raza, who started with positive intent, fell one short of his fifty as Zimbabwe lost their way towards the end of their innings.