BY DANIEL NHAKANISO ZIMBABWE missed out on the opportunity to complete their first whitewash in a bilateral One Day International (ODI) series in 21 years as Bangladesh salvaged some pride by winning the third match by an emphatic 105 runs at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
Chasing 257 runs for victory, Zimbabwe were reduced to 83 for nine before a Zimbabwe record ninth wicket partnership between tail-enders Richard Ngarava and Victor Nyauchi provided some entertainment for the home fans who cheered the team until the last ball.
In the end, Zimbabwe were bowled out for 151 runs in 32.1 overs with Ngarava top scoring with a career-best 34 runs while Nyauchi chipped in with 26 runs.
Despite the loss in the dead-rubber, head coach Dave Houghton and his merry band of Zimbabwean players were celebrating in the end after winning the ODI series 2-1, their first in the 50-overs format against a full member nation since 2013.
The hosts also registered a 2-1 series win in the T20I series.
They went into the final match of the series having already won the series and with an opportunity to seal a series sweep for the first time in over two decades.
The hosts were, however, without injured stand-in skipper Regis Chakabva who joined the long list of absentees, including captain Craig Ervine, Blessing Muzarabani, Tendai Chatara, Sean Williams, Ryan Burl and Shingi Masakadza.
In Chakabva’s absence inform all-rounder Sikandar Raza took over the captaincy duties while wicketkeeper-batsman Clive Madande earned his ODI debut.
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Despite the wholesale changes, Zimbabwe put themselves in a strong position after winning the toss and electing to bowl first, restricting Bangladesh to 256 for nine in their allotted 50 overs.
The hosts were impressive in the field with two early wickets by Brad Evans and a brilliant run-out by Ngarava reducing Bangladesh to 47 for three in the 10th over.
Middle-order batter Afif Hossain led the Tigers recovery by top scoring with an unbeaten 85 from 81 balls which included two sixes and six fours while Opener Anamul Haque scored 76 off 71 balls to ensure Bangladesh reached a competitive 256 for nine.
Jongwe and Brad Evans took two wickets each for Zimbabwe, who would have been confident of successfully chasing the target.
However, their hopes were on the ropes almost immediately as Bangladesh pacer Ebadot Hossain, playing his debut ODI, took two wickets in his very first over which included the precious wicket of Sikandar Raza for a golden duck.
Hasan Mahmud had earlier struck in the very first over to remove Takudzwanashe Kaitano for his second successive duck before his opening partner Tadiwanashe Marumani was clean bowled by Mehedi Hasan Miraz in the second over.
Ebadot then dismissed Wessley Madhevere and the dangerous Raza off successive deliveries in the fifth over to leave Zimbabwe stuttering at 18 for four.
Zimbabwe were 31 for 5 in 8.2 overs when Taijul Islam trapped Innocent Kaia, another centurion from the first match, for 10. Debutant Madande managed 24 runs on his debut but Zimbabwe kept losing wickets regularly until the ninth wicket partnership between Ngarava and Nyauchi provided lifted the home crowd towards the end.
In the end, Bangladesh secured a consolation win while Zimbabwe will take some confidence ahead of the upcoming ODI series at home against India which begins next Thursday at Harare Sports Club.
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