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Chevrons let Tigers off the hook

DHAKA – On a dramatic evening in Dhaka, Bangladesh overpowered a spirited Zimbabwe to win the see-sawing opening match of the tri-series by three wickets. With little to separate the two teams, it was an 82-run seventh-wicket stand between Afif Hossain and Mosaddek Hossain that made the difference, setting up Bangladesh’s chase.

Afternoon rain meant the start of the game was delayed by more than two hours and reduced to 18 overs a side, but once play began the action was relentless.

Taijul Islam became the very first Bangladesh bowler to strike with his first ball on T20I debut and Zimbabwe’s middle order crumpled before Ryan Burl and Tinotenda Mutombodzi patched up the innings, Burl launching a blistering attack on Shakib Al Hasan to register his maiden T20I fifty.

Zimbabwe had been 63 for 5 before their stand, and Bangladesh slipped to an even more perilous 60 for 6 before Afif and Mosaddek launched their game-changing counter attack.

Afif charged to a maiden fifty of his own, and Bangladesh got over the line with two balls to spare.

Taijul Islam clearly enjoys playing against Zimbabwe at this ground.

In just the third Test of his career, he took what remains a career-best 8 for 39 against them here in October 2014.

Two months later, he made his ODI debut at this ground, against the same opponents, and became the first bowler ever to take a hat-trick on debut.

So there was always going to be a good chance that he would make an impact once again when Shakib Al Hasan tossed him the ball to bowl the second over of the innings.

Taijul didn’t disappoint, drawing an injudicious heave to leg from Brendan Taylor with his very first delivery.

The ball skewed off the top edge and looped up to be easily pouched by Mahmudullah at short third man.

Taylor had hit the first ball of the innings, bowled by Shakib, for four, but Taijul’s perfect start immediately set Zimbabwe back.

Some trademark biffing from Hamilton Masakadza helped Zimbabwe to overcome the early loss of Taylor, with sweeps orthodox, reverse, paddled and slogged to reap boundaries on both sides of the wicket.

The fifty came up in the seventh over, but then came a mini-collapse as four wickets fell in the space of four overs.

Mustafizur Rahman struck in his first over, Mohammad Saifuddin his second, and Mosaddek Hossain nipped Sean Williams out with his first ball.

When Timycen Maruma was needlessly run out, Zimbabwe were in serious strife at 63 for 5.

Before today, Ryan Burl and Tinotenda Mutombodzi had played a combined 13 T20Is between them, and neither will have registered as threats on Bangladesh’s radar.

Neither looked like turning the innings around as they groped and poked their way through probing overs from spin and seam alike in the middle of the innings.

With four overs to go and time swiftly running out, Burl finally found his range, crunching Mustafizur over wide long on and then paddling him to fine leg.

Then came an over the likes of which Shakib had never before experienced as Burl took on the world’s leading limited-overs allrounder – and won.

Favouring the leg side, Burl unfurled an array of attacking strokes as 30 runs flowed from the over, the most Shakib has ever conceded in this format.

Burl raised his maiden T20I fifty and Mutombodzi joined the party in the next over, crunching a meaty blow over cow corner.

Together they had successfully repaired Zimbabwe’s innings with an 81-run stand: a Zimbabwean record in this format. – Cricinfo

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