Early heroics see Tigers through

A superb opening partnership coupled with skipper Mashrafee bin Murtaza’s fiery opening spell helped Bangladesh take a 2-0 lead in the ongoing five-match series against Zimbabwe as the host registered a 68-run win at Chittagong on Sunday. Opener Tamim Iqbal (76) and Anamul Haque (80) put up 158 runs that enabled Bangladesh to post 251-7 before Mashrafee grabbed three early wickets to show some of his old magic and help the hosts dismiss Zimbabwe for 183 in 44.5 overs. Mashrafee removed Hamilton Masakadza in his first over to draw early blood and later picked Vusi Sibanda and Sikandar Raza to put the Zimbabwe team on the back foot from where they never recovered. Bowlers backed their skipper and kept pressure on the opponents and with Brendon Taylor(8) removed cheaply by Arafat Sunny, it was all but certain that the match had lost all possibility of becoming a late night thriller, as they were left struggling at 50-4.

Later Arafat claimed three more wickets in an over to end with figures of 4-29. Regis Chakabva (32) and Solomon Mire put on 65 runs for the fifth wicket to resurrect the innings before Al Amin Hossain broke their resistance to get rid of the former, after Mashrafee  took a catch at long off. Solomon, who debuted in the previous match, showed glimpses of talent notching up his first half-century before Sakib – who was a ghost of his usual self in this match – registered his first contribution in the game by removing him. Earlier, Mashrafee ended his toss-losing streak by calling it right and opted to give his batsmen a chance to free their arms by choosing to bat first. Tamim and Anamul repaid his faith and put the second highest opening partnership by Bangladesh to lay the platform for a huge total. Both of them were well poised to score respective hundreds only to be denied through their own mistakes. Tamim scored 76 from 98 balls with seven fours and a six before he fell victim to a run out, largely triggered by his own lethargy, while Anamul could curse his luck as his cut shot against Tinashe Panyangara was taken sharply at point by Vusi Sibanda. Anamul made 80 runs from 110 balls with five fours and a six. Bangladesh gambled with their top-order bringing Sakib at three with Mushfiq at four followed by Sabbir Rahman at five and Mahmudullah at six, but it hardly paid off as Zimababwe crawled back into the game picking six wickets for 46 runs after breaking the opening pair.

Mushfiq scored 27 runs before he was out trying to reverse sweep but not until he disgraced himself by going after Chatara in the previous over with his bat, causing a roar in the stadium. Mominul Haque, unexpectedly coming down the order, showed his mettle as a one-day player with an unbeaten 33 runs to take the score to 251-7, which at one point looked quite difficult, especially after the Zimbabweans had crawled back in the game. In the end, before Arafat wrecked through the lower order claiming three wickets in one over, Sabbir’s direct throw ended Elton Chigumbura (38) innings, who posed some threat.

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