The last four series wins have drilled into Bangladesh the way to get out of tight corners. So when they were faced with another, in the second ODI against Zimbabwe in Mirpur on Monday, they stuck to the known paths and ensured a way out. Their 58-run win defending a total of 241 for 9 gave them an unassailable 2-0 lead and sealed their fifth consecutive bilateral ODI series win. They beat their own record of four series wins in a row in 2006-07 and 2009 and the lead means that, in ODIs, Bangladesh will be unbeaten in bilateral series throughout 2015 unless there is another series next month.
Bangladesh’s bowling effort was steered smoothly by the captain Mashrafe Mortaza and the line-up hardly missed Shakib Al Hasan, who left Dhaka to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. Mustafizur Rahman was the pick of the bowlers, taking three wickets for 33 runs, while Al-Amin Hossain, Arafat Sunny and Mashrafe himself bowled with control and showed a knack for putting together dot balls.
Wickets in clumps always help and Bangladesh got those early in Zimbabwe’s chase, and at a later stage when Elton Chigumbura and Sikandar Raza were starting to look dangerous.
The visitors started the 242-run chase by losing both openers Regis Chakabva and Chamu Chibhabha within the first 5.1 overs. Chakabva was trapped leg-before in Arafat Sunny’s first over and four balls later Mashrafe Mortaza had Chibhabha inside-edge one on to the stumps.
Sean Williams and Craig Ervine were fidgety, edging many and missing some too. Williams was caught at short midwicket after he misread a Mustafizur off-cutter. Ervine and Chigumbura tried to consolidate for the fourth-wicket stand but the former was run-out after Liton Das threw down the stumps from mid-off to leave the score at 78 for 4 in the 21st over.
Chigumbura badly needed Sikandar Raza to stay with him, and the pair added 73 runs for the fifth wicket with minimal effort. Raza hardly played a false short after he blasted Sunny over long-off early in his innings. Chigumbura was looking for a release point and it came in the 32nd over when he went after Mashrafe for a six and two fours off consecutive deliveries.
The six was blasted over the bowler’s head before Liton and Nasir Hossain couldn’t chase down a ball near the leg-side boundary. The third boundary came off an outside edge but it seemed Zimbabwe were turning a corner.
Al-Amin removed both in the 34th and 36th overs. Raza holed out to mid-on for 33 off 42 balls, which included two fours and a six, while hit an upper-cut to Kayes at third man, who took the catch diving forward. The Zimbabwe captain’s knock could hardly be described as berserk and he hit two fours and a six in 47 off 77 deliveries.
Mustafizur took two more wickets, removing Luke Jongwe and Tinashe Panyangara, while Nasir took the wickets of Malcolm Waller and Graeme Cremer, to shut Zimbabwe down for 183 runs in 43.2 overs.
Earlier in the afternoon, Bangladesh were presented with a situation similar to the first ODI when they were put into bat and lost two early wickets. This time, however, there were no moderate or big partnerships. Imrul Kayes was the only batsman with some semblance of prolonged authority as he made 76 off 89 balls and batted until the 32nd over.
Tamim Iqbal got out to peach of a Panyangara delivery that held its line and took the outside edge in the seventh over. Liton Das’ tough start to his ODI career continued after he got out trying to pull Panyangara, when he could have left the high-bouncing delivery. Mahmudullah’s struggle continued, too – this time he batted for 32 minutes to make 7 and his dismissal made it 79 for 3 in the 18th over.
Mushfiqur Rahim, fresh from his fourth ODI hundred in the first match of the series, looked in ominous touch as he started off with a slog-sweep and a loft over cover for boundaries. The fourth-wicket partnership added 48 runs before another attempt at an inside-out shot took the edge and he was caught at short third-man, in the 28th over. Sabbir Rahman also looked to be hitting clean but, like the batsmen above him, he flattered to deceive with his 40-ball 33 that had four boundaries. Just when it looked like he would take the team to a high-scoring finish in the last ten overs, Sabbir fell to a poor slash outside off stump that gave Chakabva his fourth catch behind the stumps.
Mashrafe and Nasir, who made 41 off 53 balls, tried to up the ante but Bangladesh ended up with only 53 runs in the last ten overs as Zimbabwe took good catches and bowled tightly to keep the scoring down to 241 for 9 in 50 overs.