CHATTOGRAM: With their backs up against the wall, Bangladesh cruised to a 39-run win over Zimbabwe in a sweltering Chattogram to book their place in next week’s tri-series final. Put in to bat by Zimbabwe, Bangladesh’s 175 for 7 was built around a 78-run fourth-wicket stand between Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim. While Zimbabwe did well to hold Bangladesh back when they had been poised to score many more, they showed no such application with the bat in their chase. Brendan Taylor fell for a duck in the very first over, Zimbabwe stumbled through the Powerplay, and an eighth-wicket partnership of 58 between Richmond Mutumbami and Kyle Jarvis was their only combination of any substance as Bangladesh took full control.
Mahmudullah spanked five sixes in his 62 – only one less than Zimbabwe managed in their entire innings. Liton Das had cracked two of his own to lead Bangladesh’s charge in the Powerplay, taking 21 off an over from young left-arm spinner Ainsley Ndlovu, but when he, debutant Najmul Hossain and Shakib Al Hasan fell in the space of 17 deliveries, the momentum was transferred back to Zimbabwe.
Mahmudullah ensured it didn’t stay that way for long, stepping out to biff the very first ball he faced over long-off for six.
While Mushfiqur Rahim kept things ticking over at the other end, five overs later Mahmudullah was at it again. Sean Williams was slogged over long-on, just past the outstretched fingers of Tino Mutombodzi in that position, and soon afterwards it was Mutombodzi who was on the receiving end, with a floated legbreak flayed over long-off for Mahmudullah’s third six.
By then, the fourth-wicket stand had passed fifty, the innings had been well and truly set up, and Mushfiqur joined the party by slog-sweeping a Chris Mpofu slower ball for a six of his own. He was out soon afterwards, but Mahudullah wasn’t done yet, raising Bangladesh’s 150 in the 18th over, and his own half-century three balls later with his fourth maximum via a muscular pull off Mpofu. He saved his best for last, with six No. 5 coming off a delivery from Mpofu that was only slightly too full, a low, dipping full toss being lifted cleanly over fine leg.