A brilliant fourth-wicket stand between Wesley Madhevere (67) and Sikandar Raza (65) complemented a solid bowling performance as Zimbabwe secured a 1-0 lead in three-match T20I series against Bangladesh.
The first over of the match was a nine-ball affair as Taskin Ahmed struggled to find this rhythm early on, bowling three wides. Regis Chakabva took advantage of this nervousness, smashing a four off the fourth official ball of the innings to get Zimbabwe going. Unfortunately, he was dismissed by Mustafizur Rahman soon after. Craig Ervine persisted to take the hosts to the Powerplay at 43/1 but succumbed to Mosaddek Hossain on the first ball of the seventh over for 21 (18). Both openers were back in the hut but had ensured a steady start to the innings.
Wesley Madhevere took his time to break free but gave glimpses of brilliance with the occasional aggressive shot. Sean Williams did not take too much time to get in his elements and soon smashed Nasum Ahmed for a six and two fours in one over. His attack did not last for long and eventually departed for a quick-fire 33 (19). The arrival of Sikandar Raza in the 13th over was just the boost Zimbabwe needed.
Madhevere and Raza complemented each other, rapidly establishing a strong partnership. Both took the Bangladesh bowlers to the cleaners, upping the scoring rate in the death overs. Madhevere got to his seventh T20I fifty in 37 balls, while Raza attacked and got to the milestone in just 23 deliveries. As many as 19 runs came off in the final over as Zimbabwe posted a mammoth 205/3.
Bangladesh may have wobbled early with the wicket of Munim Shahriar in the second over but Liton Das and Anamul Haque steadied the proceedings quickly, taking the visitors to 60/1, at the end of the Powerplay. But they suffered a big setback, when Liton was slow to react and was stranded in the middle of crease, getting run out for a 19-ball 32.
Another 22 runs were added before Anamul was sent back by Raza for 32. On 86/3 after 10 overs, Bangladesh needed a little over 10 runs an over to get across the line. Afif Hossain’s stay at the crease was brief with Luke Jongwe dismissing him for 8. And even the established Najmul Hossain Shanto perished after a solid 25-ball 37.
Bangladesh captain Nurul Hasan came in the 13th over and was quick to adapt to the situation. He slammed two sixes off Wellington Masakadza in the 15th over, looking to up the ante. Despite Shanto’s wicket, he persisted with the occasional brilliant shot but failed to get the required support from the other end.
As the asking rate continued to climb, the Zimbabwe bowlers began applying the pressure, choking off the singles and doubles. In the end, despite Nurul’s fighting 26-ball 42, Bangladesh fell 17 runs short, allowing Zimbabwe to take a 1-0 lead in the series.