Bangladesh finally turned out to play cricket Tuesday, but could not stop a resurgent Zimbabwe side from sealing victory by winning the third UCB one-day international series match by five runs at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
Zimbabwe now lead the series 3-0 with two more games to be played in Bulawayo on Friday and Sunday. The victory marks Zimbabwe’s first ODI series win against a Test-playing nation in five years.
For once the story was not about Brian Vitori, neither was it about any fast bowler, on a day two top batsmen shone for the two teams with spinner Prosper Utseya taking some of the thunder.
For once the match went all the way down to the wire and in the last over the tourists needed eight runs from six balls, but lost their last wicket to Chris Mpofu to spark wild celebrations and another lap of honour just as was the case in the Test match.
And for once in this series, this match was really thrilling.
Having been set a victory target of 251, with Zimbabwe reaching 250-7 in their 50 allotted overs, the tourists got off to a good start, a first for them in this series, with the opening stand putting on 50 from 50 balls before Imrul Kayes departed for 16.
Zimbabwe seam bowlers did not enjoy as much success as they have been accustomed to and as what the fans have come to expect of them with spinner Utseya emerging as the bowling hero with 3-47.
Mushfiqur Rahim scored an unbeaten 101, but could not keep the series alive as Zimbabwe romped home with two matches to be played and they should be going for a whitewash now.
For once the sky was not clear and for the first time in this series Shakib Al Hasan won the toss and sent in Zimbabwe to bat.
Zimbabwe got off to a slow start with runs hard to come by and lost captain Brendan Taylor (4) early as the hosts’ seamers applied pressure.
But wicketkeeper — batsman Tatenda Taibu and Hamilton Masakadza revived Zimbabwe’s faltering innings and put in 143 runs before the latter perished at 74 facing seamer Rubel Hossain, but that was not before he provided some entertainment heaving two to the crowd.
Before that Zimbabwe were looking shaky at 39-2 with the tourists threatening to hit back after losing the first two matches.
Taibu went on to reach his 20th half century and ended on 83 having been fortuitously given three lives by the Bangladesh fielders who have been suspect all the way this tour.
Taibu was to fall to a combination of Rubel Hossain and Nazmul Hossain for 83 with a century well in sight, but that was not to be.
Craig Ervine and Elton Chigumbura added 18 and 31 respectively with the latter doing quite some work to make the score more competitive after reaching his total in 21 balls.
For Bangladesh the chase looked to be a tough call after dropping Mohammed Ashraful and Nafees in their batting line-up, but as the match went on they looked to be up for the challenge with the openers looking to be in a defiant mood and scoring freely.
With the fast bowlers failing to fire, Utseya was to make the important breakthrough when he removed Imrul Kayes in the 11th over for 16.
Utseya was further rewarded with two more wickets to end the day as the most successful bowler, but Kyle Jarvis was to show late in the match with two scalps of his own as the match reached fever pitch, taking out Shafiul Islam and Rubel Islam for one and zero respectively.
But unlike the first two matches, the result of this one was always in doubt and it proved to be a tough match as it went all the way to the last over well in the balance.