BY Kevin Mapasure
The Zimbabwe national cricket team staged a remarkable recovery to clinch the final of the three-match T-20 series against the touring Bangladesh with a 10-run win in the series decider at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
This was Zimbabwe’s first T-20 series win on home soil and also against Bangladesh.
Ryan Burl and Luke Jongwe put up a record breaking 79 run seventh wicket partnership off just 34 balls to haul Zimbabwe from the fire with the home side having found itself reeling at 56 for 5 after 10 overs.
There were several heroes for Zimbabwe with Luke Jongwe hitting 35 runs from 20 balls in addition to taking a wicket, while Victor Nyauchi took three wickets, all at crucial periods in the game and Brad Evans also claimed two scalps in two deliveries.
But it was Burl, who was named man of the match after hitting 54 from 28 balls featuring six maximums and four boundaries.
It was the 15th over in particular where he was most devastating, milking Nasum Ahmed for 34 runs as he fearlessly and mercilessly heaved five over the rope while one went to the boundary.
At the other end Jongwe was equally fast and furious in his accumulation as he needed just 20 balls for his 35 where he hit two sixes and four fours helping Zimbabwe to 156 for 8 in 20 overs.
On evidence of previous games, this was below par. Their 79 run partnership is now the highest in this format for the seventh wicket and below.
Expectant home fans had watched in anguish and disbelief as the batsmen shuffled to the hut one after the other despite a fast start by the opening pair of Craig Ervine and Regis Chakabva after winning the toss.
They put up a 29-run first wicket partnership before Chakabva became Ahmed’s victim with Afif Hossain completing the catch. What followed after that was a flurry of wickets as Wessley Madhevere departed to leave Zimbabwe on 2 for 45 two overs later.
No runs had been added on the board when Sikandar Raza’s dismissal induced groans from the colourful crowd considering the form that he had been in.
Nine runs later Sean Williams was dismissed for an eight ball two runs and it looked all over.
Some fans admitted that they contemplated leaving when Zimbabwe was six wickets down for 67 runs, yet the arrival of Burl and Jongwe saw faint hopes for a win returning.
After the miracles of the first innings Zimbabwe carried the momentum and the confidence into the field as Nyauchi, in his first over removed both openers Litton Dias (13) and Parvez Emon for two.
Madhevere (3 for 29) got in on the act, removing Anamul Haque to reduce Bangladesh to 3 for 34 in 4.4 overs and at that point it looked all rosy for the home side.
They kept on applying pressure with further wickets by Evans (2 for 26) while Jongwe and Williams shared two wickets to restrict Bangladesh to 146 for 8 in 20 overs.
Afif Hossain top scored for Bangladesh with an unbeaten 39 and he carried the Bangladesh threat late on, ensuring a nervy finish to the match.
Zimbabwe: Regis Chakabva, Craig Ervine, Wessley Madhevere, Sean Williams, Sikandar Raza, Milton Shumba, Ryan Burl, Luke Jongwe, John Masara, Victor Nyauchi, Brad Evans
Bangladesh: Musaddek Hossain, Parvez Hossain, Litton Das, Anamul Bijoy, Najmul Shanto, MD Mahmudullah, Afid Hossain, Shak Hasan, Mustafizur Rahman, Nasum Ahmed
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