Sibanda hands Zimbabwe victory

Bangladesh were given a stern reminder that their status is still little more than that of ‘minnow’ when they were comprehensively beaten by Zimbabwe in Harare, the home side’s eight-wicket victory drawing the four match series level at one game apiece.

Fine spells of seam bowling from Gary Brent and Chris Mpofu skittled the Tigers for a paltry 153 before opener Vusi Sibanda finished unbeaten on a serene 93 not out as Zimbabwe cruised home with over 14 overs to spare.

After winning the first game by a comfortable margin, Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar won the toss and had no hesitations in batting first, seemingly intent on composing another large score and then choking the opposition through his spinners. Just three overs in, his decision appeared to have already backfired, as Shahriar Nafees and Mehrab Hossain fell early on to the new ball.
A brief recovery was staged through Aftab Ahmed and Saqibul Hasan, before Bangladesh again slipped to 81-7 when Mashrafe Mortaza was stumped by Brendon Taylor off the impressive left-arm spin of Sean Williams, who picked up 3-23.

Indeed, it took a gritty 27 from Mushfiqur Rahim and a more stroke-packed 40 from Mohammad Rafique to edge the score to 138 without further loss, when both batsmen fell in swift succession as Bangladesh were bowled out with four overs unused. Brent, who removed Aftab, Saqibul and Bashar, finished with the figures of 4-30 from his ten overs.

With such a small score to defend, the slightly one-dimensional Bangladeshi spin attack was exposed and with the lack of a pressure-cooker situation to force the batsmen into shots, Zimbabwe and Sibanda raced home with ease. Once the opening burst from Mortaza and Shahadat Hossain has been negotiated safely, their were few problems for Sibanda or his opening partner, Terrence Duffin, who played the perfect supporting role with an 83-ball 32. Sibanda faced 117 balls in all, striking nine fours and pulling Shahadat for six.

After two failures at the top of the order and his left-arm spin both underused and ineffective, Mehrab Hossain jnr looks set to make way for the uncapped youngster Tamim Iqbal for the final two matches, while either Mohammad Sharif or Tapash Baisya could replace Shahadat Hossain. Zimbabwe, buoyed by such a convincing victory, will now hope to carry their momentum into the third match on Friday.

Bangladesh 153 (46 overs)
Mohammad Rafique 40, Mushfiqur Rahim 27
Gary Brent 4-30, Sean Williams 3-23, Chris Mpofu 2-26

Zimbabwe 156-2 (35.2 overs)
Vusi Sibanda 93*, Terrence Duffin 32

Zimbabwe won by 8 wickets
Cricket Web Man of the Match: Vusi Sibanda

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