Zimbabwe – 193-5 in 20 overs (Wessly Madhevere 54, Regis Chakabva 48, Ryan Burl 31*; Soumya Sarkar 2/19, Shakib Al Hasan 1/24, Shoriful Islam 1/27)
Bangladesh – 194-5 in 19.2 overs (Soumya Sarkar 68, Mahmudullah 34, Shamim Hossain 31*; Blessing Muzarabani 2/27, Luke Jongwe 2/42, Wellington Masakadza 1/37)
Bangladesh won by five wickets
Brilliant batting from Wessly Madhevere and Regis Chakabva gave Zimbabwe such a wonderful start that they reached 122 with only one wicket down in the first 11 overs of the Twenty20 international (T20I) series decider against Bangladesh at Harare Sports Club on Sunday.
The tourists, however, pulled out all the stops and recovered in excellent style to win the match by five wickets with four balls to spare – and the series by two matches to one – in an exciting finish.
On the coldest day of the tour, Zimbabwe, playing an unchanged team after their series-levelling victory on Friday, won the toss and decided to bat.
Tadiwanashe Marumani and Madhevere opened the batting against the bowling of Taskin Ahmed and Mohammad Saifuddin.
Attacking boldly, the batsmen scored eight runs off Taskin’s first over.
Fortune favoured the brave at first, and Marumani pulled a ball from Shoriful Islam for a fine six to midwicket.
Taskin’s second over saw Madhevere strike the first five balls each for four with powerful pulls and drives.
He slashed at the sixth but missed it outside his off stump.
The team fifty came up in the fifth over, after which the score was 51 without loss – Marumani had 20 and Madhevere 31, both off only 15 balls.
The bowlers were well knocked off their length and the batsmen were able to take advantage, especially off the short balls.
However, at 63, with the last ball of the sixth over, Saifuddin moved a ball in to Marumani, who tried to hit across the line and was bowled.
He scored 27 off 20 balls, with two sixes and two fours.
If Marumani was spectacular, Chakabva was brilliant.
He raced to 26 off 12 balls, with three great hits for six, and the team hundred came up in the 10th over.
Off the next delivery, he survived a very close stumping appeal and at the end of that over Zimbabwe were 101 for one wicket, a wonderful start.
In the next over, Chakabva hit another six with a slog-sweep that lost the ball – he celebrated with two similar strokes off the next two balls, the left-arm spinner Nasum Ahmed being the unfortunate bowler.
A brilliant innings had a brilliant ending, as another slog-sweep was taken on the deep midwicket boundary by Mohammad Naim, who was falling over the board, so he flicked it back where Shamim Hossain completed the catch.
Chakabva hit 48 off only 22 balls, with six sixes and no fours, his dismissal leaving Zimbabwe on 122 for two in the 12th over.
The medium-paced Soumya Sarkar was the fortunate bowler, but later in the over he bowled Sikandar Raza without scoring, as the batsman tried to hit the ball across the line; 125 for three.
Madhevere was still there, and an edgy boundary brought him his fifty off 31 balls.
The batting now began to get rather bogged down against good bowling, and in the 16th over Madhevere miscued a reverse sweep and was caught at short third man.
He had played a fine innings of 54 off 36 balls, and Zimbabwe were 147 for four.
Dion Myers and Ryan Burl both needed time to settle in, but the 18th over, bowled by Saifuddin, brought 19 runs.
Shoriful bowled the 19th, and immediately Myers was caught off a mistimed pull for 23 off 21 balls.
Luke Jongwe came in, got only a single off his first four balls, but managed to give Burl the strike for the last over, bowled by Saifuddin.
Burl began with two twos, and then hit a four and a six – 16 runs came altogether and the innings finished on 193 for five wickets.
Burl finished with 31 not out off 15 balls.
This is Zimbabwe’s second-highest T20I score, behind only their 200 for two wickets at Hamilton against New Zealand in 2011/12.
Soumya proved to be the best of the Bangladesh bowlers, taking two for 19 off his three overs.
Bangladesh made a flying start to their run chase, with 13 runs off the first over, bowled by Raza, including an off-drive for six by Soumya.
Blessing Muzarabani replaced Raza, and Mohammad Naim (3) drove a catch to Jongwe at mid-off from the second delivery; 20 for one.
After five overs the score had reached 44 for one wicket, seven runs behind Zimbabwe’s dynamic start.
For a time Bangladesh struggled to score quickly, but Shakib Al Hasan decided it was time to clear the boundaries, hitting Jongwe for two successive sixes.
However, aiming for a third in the same over, he miscued a straight hit and skyed a catch to Myers.
He had scored 25 off 13 balls and Bangladesh were now 70 for two in the eighth over.
After 10 overs, the score was 90 for two, compared with Zimbabwe’s 101 for one wicket.
Two successive boundaries from Soumya took Bangladesh past the hundred in the next over.
A flurry of strokes, backed by Mahmudullah, took him to his fifty off 40 balls.
Fours were coming at about two an over, and Bangladesh appeared to be running away with the luck and the match when Sarkar miscued a drive and skyed a catch to Tarisai Musakanda, the substitute fielder, at long-off.
He scored 68 off 49 balls, with nine fours and a six, and the score was 133 for three in the 14th over.
A fine over by Muzarabani gave away only two runs in the 15th over, when Bangladesh were 142 for three, only two runs behind Zimbabwe’s score at that stage.
A six by Afif Hossain, his second in the four balls he had faced, gave Bangladesh a further boost, only for Wellington Masakadza to bowl him next ball as he tried to hit across the line; 150 for four in the 16th over.
Mahmudullah was determined to win the match and series for Bangladesh, and he hit Chatara for a big leg-side six, with 14 coming off that over.
Three fours and 15 runs altogether off an over from Myers, the 18th, virtually settled the matter against Zimbabwe, taking the score to 181 for four.
Mahmudullah was unable to stay until the close, edging a catch to Chakabva off Muzarabani with seven runs still needed for victory.
Five were needed off the final over, bowled by Masakadza – Shamim hit a four and a single to win the match, finishing himself with 31 not out off 15 balls.
Muzarabani as usual was the key bowler, taking two wickets for 27 off his four overs, while Jongwe took two for 42.