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Bangladesh clinch T20I series 3-0 over Zimbabwe  

Update : 07 May 2024, 19:47

Bangladesh saw off some late batting fightback from Zimbabwe's tailenders Faraz Akram and Blessing Muzarabani to clinch the T20I series in the third game in Chattogram. They won by nine runs on Tuesday, with two matches left to play in Dhaka.

Akram, playing only his fifth T20I, struck an unbeaten 34 off 19 balls after the visitors had crashed to 91 for eight chasing Bangladesh's 165 for 5 batting first. The 54 runs he added with Wellington Masakadza ended up as a new Zimbabwe record for the ninth wicket.

Akram's 34 was also Zimbabwe's highest by a batter at No 10. Muzarabani, who took career-best figures of 3 for 14 earlier, struck two fours when Zimbabwe needed 21 in the final over. But Saifuddin snuffed out the trouble with some accurate death-over bowling.

Zimbabwe produced lower-order runs for the third game in a row, especially when their top and middle order sunk quickly. Bangladesh once again had Towhid Hridoy play a crucial hand in a win. Hridoy's maiden T20I fifty came during an 87-run fourth wicket stand with Jaker Ali, who made 44. This pair had to retrieve Bangladesh from three wickets in the first nine overs.

Bangladesh suffer for Litton's scoops

Litton Das chose the strangest sequence of shots to get out in the fourth over. He missed two lap scoops against Muzarabani before his third successive attempt dragged the ball onto his stumps. It is unclear whether Litton, already showing poor form in white-ball cricket this year, is in Bangladesh's T20 World Cup squad. This innings is unlikely to help his case.

Captain Najmul Hossain Shanto too got out cheaply, bowled by a bit of variation from his opposite number Sikandar Raza. Shanto's lack of footwork would be concerning for the team. Those would be long-term concerns, but when Tanzid Hasan fell in the ninth over, trying to slog Faraz Akram, it was immediate worry. Bangladesh were hovering around a mediocre run rate, having lost their set batter.

Hridoy, Jaker to the rescue

The fourth-wicket pair struck a boundary in their first 3.3 overs before Jaker and Hridoy took on Raza for two sixes in the space of three balls. The first was a straight hit before Hridoy hit a bigger one into the mid-wicket stands.

In the 15th over though, Zimbabwe handed Jaker a life when his slog-sweep off Luke Jongwe fell between Johnathan Campbell and Brian Bennett, both looking at each other as the ball went for four. Hridoy deposited Masakadza for his second six in the 16th over before reaching his maiden T20I fifty in the 18th over. Jaker slammed Jongwe for a big six shortly afterwards.

Hridoy's scoop also connected in the penultimate over as Bangladesh approached 150 runs. Litton attempted the same shot thrice in a row, the third of which was his dismissal. It showed the gulf of difference in confidence between Litton and Hridoy.

Muzarabani's best keeps Zim in hunt

Muzarabani however caused a bit of anti-climax when his yorker slammed into Hridoy's leg-stump next ball. It was an excellent delivery that forced itself through Hridoy's bat and pad as he looked to swing the ball towards the leg-side. But the dismissal ended an 87-run fourth wicket stand that got Bangladesh out of a difficult position in the ninth over.

Jaker fell one ball after Hridoy got out, as another Muzarabani full delivery slammed into his stumps. Muzarabani's 3-14, his best T20 figures too, helped Zimbabwe keep Bangladesh within a decent score. It was also reward for a fast bowler who is accurate even when he uses variations.

A familiar top-order collapse

Zimbabwe have now lost their first four wickets for less than 50 runs in three matches in a row, in Chattogram. Joylord Gumbie mistimed one to third man in the third over before Tanzim Hasan Sakib had Bennett caught and bowled in the fifth over. Zimbabwe's powerplay ended with Craig Ervine falling to Mohammad Saifuddin for seven.

What would be most concerning for Zimbabwe is Sikandar Raza's form. Rishad Hossain got him caught behind for one in this game, his fifth consecutive low score. It comes on the back of five successive fifties since November last year. 

Akram's surprise from No 10

Tadiwanashe Marumani fell for a 26-ball 31 before Clive Madande too made only 11. Campbell, who struck the ball cleanly in his debut in the last match, struck Tanvir Islam for two consecutive sixes before his attempt for the third in a row found Litton Das at the deep square-leg boundary.

When Jongwe fell to Rishad in the 15th over, the writing was in the wall for Zimbabwe. Akram struck Rishad for two sixes over midwicket later in the over, before he found two more fours off Saifuddin in the 17th over. Taskin dropped a difficult chance from Masakadza's top edge in the 18th over, he came back to concede just six runs in the penultimate over.

Saifuddin removed Masakadza first ball of the last over before Muzarabani slammed two consecutive fours to reduce the target down to 13 off three balls. There was however no more heroism left in the Zimbabwe tail, but it was admirable nonetheless. 

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