Zimbabwe – 205-3 in 20 overs (Wessly Madhevere 67*, Sikandar Raza 65*, Sean Williams 33; Mustafizur Rahman 2/50, Mosaddek Hossain 1/21)
Bangladesh – 188-6 in 20 overs (Nurul Hasan 42*, Najmul Hossain Shanto 37, Litton Das 32; Luke Jongwe 2/34, Wellington Masakadza 1/23, Sikandar Raza 1/30)
Zimbabwe won by 17 runs
Sikandar Raza and Wessly Madhevere scored magnificent sixties as Zimbabwe beat Bangladesh by 17 runs in the first of the three-match Twenty20 international (T20I) series at Harare Sports Club on Saturday.
On a mild sunny morning, the hosts won the toss and took their usual course of batting first.
They did not begin very well though, as in the third over Regis Chakabva (8) went for a big leg-side hit off Mustafizur Rahman and skyed a catch to midwicket to make it 15 for one.
Craig Ervine, who opened with him, scored 21 off 18 balls before he tried to work a straight ball from Mosaddek Hossain to the leg side, only to be bowled at 43 for two in the seventh over.
There followed a fine stand between Madhevere and Sean Williams, as the pair put on 56 in six overs before Williams was deceived by a slower ball from Mustafizur and played it on to his stumps, having made 33 off 19 balls.
Then came the decisive partnership and once again it was the in-form Raza who took hold of the bowling and smashed it all over the ground in another brilliant innings.
Madhevere, although not as devastating in his strokeplay, played the ideal supporting role and went on to score 67 off 46 balls, with nine fours in it.
The pair put on 91 runs in only seven overs, and their partnership came to an unusual end in the final over, as Madhevere, diving into the crease as the batters took a risky second run to bring up Raza’s 50, suffered a cramp and had to retire hurt.
Fortunately, this did not affect the innings, as the new man, Ryan Burl, simply played the role of spectator as Raza took the last three deliveries – including a wide – from Mustafizur, hammering them for four, six and four respectively.
The total was 205 for only three wickets and Raza’s brilliant innings brought 65 runs off only 26 balls, with four sixes and seven fours.
Mustafizur took two wickets, but his four overs cost 50 runs.
Bangladesh had a shaky start to their innings, as in the second over Munim Shahriar (4) drove at a flighted ball from Wellington Masakadza outside his off stump and sliced a catch to Tanaka Chivanga at backward point – five for one.
His partner, Litton Das, was in fine form as he raced to 32 off 19 balls, with six fours.
Then he tried to ramp a ball to short fine leg, where Ngarava dropped a difficult chance, but made up for it by throwing the ball to the bowler’s end where Litton was narrowly run out – 63 for two in the seventh over.
Anamul Haque (26) was the next man to go in the 10th over, as he tried to hit Raza for six over midwicket, but instead holed out to Milton Shumba on the boundary there – 85 for three.
Bangladesh now faced the stiff task of scoring 120 runs in the last 10 overs to win.
The 100 came up in the 12th over, with Najmul Hossain Shanto and Afif Hossain at the crease.
Afif made 10 before he pulled a ball from Luke Jongwe to deep midwicket, to be caught by Masakadza – 106 for four in the 13th over, with 100 runs still needed.
Shanto and Nurul Hasan attacked desperately, with the latter hitting two successive sixes from leg-side slogs off Masakadza, but 66 runs were still needed off the final five overs.
Jongwe then bowled an excellent over that yielded only six runs and finished with the wicket of Shanto, who top-edged a pull to be caught by Chakabva behind the wicket.
He scored 37 off 25 balls and after 16 overs the score was 146 for five, leaving 60 runs needed off the final four overs.
Nurul attacked with all the power and skill he had, aided now by Mosaddek Hossain, until 32 runs were needed off the last two overs.
After his expensive bowling earlier in the innings, Ngarava came good at just the right time, conceding only three singles and a wide, before off his final delivery he dismissed Mosaddek (13), caught on the boundary by Shumba once again.
This left 28 runs to be scored off the final over, which was given to Chivanga.
Nurul hit him for the fourth six of his innings, and there were four leg-byes, but the batter was unable to score off the last three deliveries and so the total finished at 188 for six, and Zimbabwe celebrated victory by 17 runs.
Nurul made 42 not out off 26 balls.
Jongwe took two wickets for 34 in his four overs, while the most economical was Williams, given only two overs but conceding only seven runs.
Zimbabwe and Bangladesh will meet in the second T20I this Sunday at the same venue, with the match scheduled to start at 1PM Harare time.