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Zimbabwe Collapses Hand Bangladesh Win in 5th ODI

Bangladesh walked away with their heads up high after winning the final match in the UCB ODI series at Queens Sports Club Bulawayo, with a 93-run win against the hosts Zimbabwe. The win comes as a consolation after the visitors had lost the first three out five matches in the series.

Zimbabwe won the toss this time, and followed normal practice by putting the opposition in to bat. The day was warm and sunny, and the pitch had a little more green on it than the previous day - although still not very much. Zimbabwe brought in Keegan Meth for Kyle Jarvis, Meth's only match of the tour and one that was to end badly for him; Brian Vitori is still unfit and was again sorely missed.

The team 50 came up in the twelfth over, but Bangladesh were unable to put together a substantial partnership early on. Raymond Price was in the thick of things, removing Tamim Iqbal with his second ball for 45, through a slog to mid-on. He tied the batsmen down early on, also dismissing Mushfiqur Rahim for 20 and frustrating out Shuvagoto Hom for 3, but later on he seemed to lose some accuracy and the batsmen scored freely from him.

At 127 for five after 30 overs, Zimbabwe had perhaps a slight advantage, but this was where it ended. Shakib Al Hasan was in fine form, and he was joined by Mahmadullah. They added 107 together in 18 overs, a serious blow to Zimbabwe, especially as both were dropped, Mahmadullah at 22 by Price and Al Hasan on reaching his 50 by Brendan Taylor. The bowling also was erratic, with some fine deliveries but also too many loose balls, with Al Hasan in particular feeding off balls misdirected on his legs. The final total was 253, the best figures being Price's rather expensive three for 51.

The last ball saw a very nasty injury to Meth from a tossed delivery played back to him on the last ball of the Bangladesh innings. Zimbabwe would had to bat with ten men.

On this ground the target was not mountainous but Zimbabwe suffered an immediate setback when they lost Taylor without scoring; as he prodded at a ball outside off stump and was caught at the wicket. Six runs were scored off the first three overs, but 15 came off the fourth, from Rubel Hossain, as Hamilton Masakadza hit a boundary and then Vusi Sibanda a four and a six. Shortly afterwards Sibanda pulled another six, this time from Shafiul Islam, high into the stand at midwicket.

The 50 came up in the eleventh over, with both batsmen looking in superb form, except that they hit rather too many fine strokes to the fielders rather than between them. But once again the magnificent partnership that has been anticipated all the series failed to materialize, as Sibanda miscued a pull and lobbed a catch to third man for 34; Zimbabwe were 59 for two in the 14th over. Masakadza did not long survive him and was given out lbw to Abdur Razzak for 28. Taibu swept and missed a ball from Al Hasan for 7, another lbw decision and at 73 for four Zimbabwe had put themselves on the slippery road of self-destruction.

Forster Mutizwa and Malcolm Waller had to rebuild the innings, and did so very well for a while, keeping the score moving with well-placed ones and twos while they added 67 and almost doubled the total. But even then the stand was broken as Mutizwa went for a run too soon and fine fielding by Al Hasan ran him out for 27; 140 for five. Elton Chigumbura was soon dismissed, but Waller continued to show up his team-mates, reaching a superb fighting fifty off 69 balls - only to throw his wicket away for 51 as he holed out on the midwicket boundary. The remaining wickets fell quickly, with Meth unable to bat after his injury; and it was soon all over. Full scorecard after the cut.
Bangladesh 253/6 (50 overs; Shakib Al Hasan 79, Price 3/51), Zimbabwe 160 (38.2 overs; Waller 51, Mahmudullah 3/13). Bangladesh win by 93 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

Bangladesh Earn Win in 4th ODI

Zimbabwe lost to a spirited Bangladeshi side by six wicket, thanks in a main to Rubel Hossain and some very attacking fielding from the visitors. Captain Brendan Taylor scored a well deserved century but this was not enough to change the outcome of the match. The match is a consolation win, also avoiding a series white wash for the Tigers as Zimbabwe have already won the series 3-1 with one more game to play on Sunday.

Bangladesh, as in the third match, won the toss and put Zimbabwe in to bat, although the flat pitch on a warm sunny day was not likely to plant anticipation in the heart of any bowler. Despite some disorganization on the part of the local board, the crowd at the start was larger than it had been for any of the Harare matches, and it continued to grow during the day. Zimbabwe omitted Craig Ervine and Vitori, the latter with a leg strain, and brought in Malcolm Waller while restoring Raymond Price.

Zimbabwe enjoyed a good opening stand of 40 before Vusi Sibanda drove outside the off stump to Shafiul Islam and was caught at the wicket for 18, in the ninth over. Hamilton Masakadza stayed in a while without scoring before being dismissed in controversial circumstances: he swept hard at a ball from Mahmadullah well down the leg side and, on the lone appeal of the wicketkeeper, was given out caught at the wicket by the local umpire Owen Chirombe. With no referral option, there was nothing the batsman could do but trudge reluctantly back to the pavilion. The situation grew worse when Taibu called for a risky run and was sent back, but was run out for 8. Zimbabwe were 69 for three in the 18th over. Forster Mutizwa, at last having a chance to play a decent innings, fell to a beautifully flighted and turning delivery from Shakib Al Hasan for 9; 89 for four in the 22nd over.

Another wicket now would have put Bangladesh right on top, but still batting was Brendan Taylor, who had done little in the first three matches. Once in, he showed no signs of poor form, as he put on the runs mainly by handsome drives and well-placed sweeps. He held the innings together and was now joined by Elton Chigumbura, another batsman who has done relatively little in this series. Chigumbura restrained his natural destructive - occasionally self-destructive - nature and played second fiddle to his captain admirably. Taylor went from strength to strength, hitting a flat-bat six off Nasir Hossain over cow corner and reaching his century off 131 balls. The pair added 94 before Chigumbura, with only 31 of those, pulled a short ball straight to deep midwicket. Taylor immediately followed, skying a catch to long-on for 106 (137 balls, seven fours and a six), and the Zimbabwe innings was faltering again at 184 for six in the 44th over. It was a disappointing end to one of Taylor's finest innings.

Malcolm Waller, was a good man in such a situation, and immediately glided a four and pulled a six - only to be out for 12, unusually hitting his wicket as he attempted another pull. The tail seemed utterly out of their depth against Rubel Hossain, whose superb reverse swing cleaned them up in no time. The last four wickets fell for only three runs, making the total 199 with ten balls to spare, and Hossain's final spell took four wickets for only five runs. Bangladesh were hot favourites to win their first match of the series now.

When Bangladesh went in, Chris Mpofu began as if determined to blast out the batsmen with bouncers, but he was quite out of control and his first two balls were wides. A difficult chance was missed at midwicket, but Imrul Kayes smashed his fifth legal delivery for a remarkable straight six. Tamim Iqbal joined in by attacking Kyle Jarvis, and the first two overs went for 24 runs. Some of the strokes were little more than bat thrown at ball, but it was working. When it came to fighting fire with fire Bangladesh were well in front - for a short period, at least - and this was the true Bangladeshi batting flair unseen before on this tour. Vitori was sorely missed.

46 were on the board in only the fifth over when Kayes - 28 off 20 balls - had one hit too many and hammered a catch straight at mid-off. But Junaid Siddique continued to follow the team policy and lashed his first ball over the covers for four. He ran up 14 off 19 balls but, bogged down by Prosper Utseya, went on a big hit and Jarvis held on to a huge skier beyond extra cover; 72 for two after 10 overs. Mpofu, to his credit, had tightened up and making the batsmen take risks to hit him.

Nobody could stop Tamim from reaching his fifty off 35 balls. Price was now bowling in tandem with Utseya, but they too were attacked, until the drink interval. Strangely, afterwards the bowlers began to restrain the batsmen, and Tamim, attempting to sweep a ball from Price, was trapped lbw for 61 (53 balls). When Mushfiqur Rahim (16) drove a catch to extra cover to make the total 129 for four, Zimbabwe could see a glimmer of hope.

But at this point Shuvagoto Hom joined Shakib Al Hasan and, playing a wise game and taking no undue risks, the pair steadily accumulated the necessary runs. Hom again showed great calm and competence in the middle order, and the ability to score freely without taking risks, while Shakib did his usual job for his side. Zimbabwe will need to lift themselves again for the final match on Sunday, with or without Vitori. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 199 (48.2 overs; Taylor 106, Rubel Hossain 4/31), Bangladesh 203/4 (36.4 overs; Tamim Iqbal 61, Price 1/35). Bangladesh win by 6 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]

Zimbabwe Take Series After Thrilling 3rd ODI Win

Brian Vitori had an ordinary day and a large midweek crowd of perhaps three thousand had a thrilling finish as Zimbabwe, who looked ready to concede defeat in the final overs, fought back to win a narrow victory in the final over. A heroic innings of 101 by the Bangladeshi wicketkeeper, Mushfiqur Rahim, almost snatched the match from Zimbabwe's grasp, but the tail collapsed around him and his was the last wicket to fall as he attempted to win the match off his own bat at the last gasp. So Zimbabwe, with three straight wins, have clinched the five-match series.

Bangladesh made three changes for this match, dropping two unsuccessful batsmen in Mohammad Ashraful and Shahriar Nafees, and also off-spinner Abdur Razzak. Zimbabwe preferred the pace of Kyle Jarvis to the spinner Raymond Price, who has not been at his best this season. Bangladesh won the toss for the first time in the series, quite an important advantage as the first hour often favours the bowlers at Harare Sports Club. They naturally put Zimbabwe in to bat on a greenish pitch, with an unusual light cloud cover on this particular day.

Runs were hard to come by early on, with the bowlers finding some help from the pitch. Brendan Taylor again failed opening the innings, slashing a catch to slip after making 4 off 17 balls, in the seventh over. Hamilton Masakadza struggled early on, but Vusi Sibanda, oozing class, scored freely when others failed, but again he failed to make the most of a fine start, choosing the wrong ball to pull and skying a catch to mid-off. He made 27 off 36 balls, and Zimbabwe were now 39 for two in the 14th over.

Masakadza and Tatenda Taibu struggled for runs, and more than once unsuccessfully tried taking a pace or two down the pitch, but without success. Finally, from the 18th over, they decided to slog their way out of trouble. Fortunately for them, it worked, although it would not have done had Taibu not been dropped off a straightforward chance to extra cover when he had 16; this was perhaps the major turning point of the match. From then on Zimbabwe's batsmen prospered, as the bowlers quickly lost their accuracy. The hundred came up in the 27th over, and Taibu overtook Masakadza. He survived two more missed chances and reached his fifty in the 35th over, with Masakadza quickly following. The pair added 142 for the third wicket before Masakadza had a big swing and had his leg stump knocked out by Rubel Hossain for 74; he faced 100 balls and hit four fours and two sixes.

Bangladesh continued to drop catches, and it was a real surprise when Rubel Hossain pulled off a brilliant low catch at fine leg to send back Taibu for 83 (103 balls, eight fours). Zimbabwe were now well past 200, and finished with 250 for seven, thanks to a dynamic 31 off 21 balls, including two sixes, from Elton Chigumbura. This was no easy task for Bangladesh, and the odds were on Zimbabwe, especially remembering the Bangladesh batting failures in the first two matches.

The Bangladesh openers faced Brian Vitori, partnered this time by Kyle Jarvis, with more confidence than before, looking to run quick singles, and when they reached 10 they had recorded their best opening stand of the series to date. Vitori strayed on to the pads too often and after three overs Taylor replaced him with Mpofu; with Vitori out of the attack, the batsmen grew bolder. The 50 came up in the eleventh over, showing how much Zimbabwe rely on an in-form Vitori. Then without addition Imrul Kayes was trapped lbw by Prosper Utseya for 16.

Tamim Iqbal rather dried up on losing his partner. Junaid Siddiqui hit a return catch to Utseya when 12, but when Mushfiqur Rahim settled in runs began to flow again. The pair took the score to 91 in the 25th over when they took on Mpofu's arm from the deep as they sought a quick second run, and Tamim was run out for 44. The Zimbabwe fielding performance on the whole was rather patchy, with some good work like this being done, but a five was given away through an overthrow and some difficult chances were missed.

The partnership between Rahim and Shakib was vital for Bangladesh. They batted well together but slowly the required run rate rose to seven an over. Shakib, the more aggressive of the two, made 19 off 22 balls before he hit a low return catch to Utseya, a major blow in Zimbabwe's favour. The debutant Shuvagoto Hom supported him well, but Zimbabwe were now fielding superbly and the required rate slowly increased; however, the longer the partnership lasted, the greater was the chance of Bangladesh being able to make a strong finish - especially with a powerplay yet to come. At 42 overs the score was 185 for four, but then a mix-up in running saw the end of Hom, for an impressive innings of 32 off 36 balls.

Mahmadullah proved another capable partner and the two kept the required rate at about nine an over with their powerful hitting and quick running. Vitori returned, but today he was reduced to an ordinary bowler and ten came off his over. 31 were needed off the last four overs, with five wickets in hand, and the match was Bangladesh's for the taking. With his final delivery of the match Vitori took the wicket of Mahmadullah, holing out at long-on for 14 off nine balls, but his figures of one for 45 were a comedown from the heights.

Bangladesh suffered another blow when Nasir Hossain was caught second ball, but Rahim was still there. 16 needed off two overs and, in the gloom, Jarvis bowled out Islam. When Rahim got to the striker's end, though, he pulled a six over midwicket, took a single - and Jarvis yorked Rubel Hossain; 243 for nine. This brought Rahim to face the final over, from Mpofu, needing 8 for victory, amid extreme tension. He took two off the first ball to reach the century he richly deserved, and aimed to hit the next for six to end the match. But for once, vitally, he miscued, and long-on Sibanda running in took a very tense catch. Zimbabwe had kept their nerve and fought back when all looked lost in the final overs, but for Bangladesh it was a bitter pill to swallow. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 250/7 (50 overs; Taibu 83, Rubel Hossain 2/41), Bangladesh 245 (49.2 overs; Mushfiqur Rahim 101, Utseya 3/47). Zimbabwe win by 5 runs.
[Match report via ZC]

Vitori Shatters World Record as Zimbabwe Lead Series 2-0

In front of a delighted crowd of several thousand people, Zimbabwe continued their remarkable winning run against Bangladesh by romping home in the second one-day international by seven wickets. Bangladesh dug their own grave with a poor batting performance by their top order, while Brian Vitori set a new cricket record with another five-wicket haul. Vusi Sibanda and Tatenda Taibu both hit fifties as Zimbabwe romped home with almost six overs to spare.

Zimbabwe again won the toss and, as in the first match, put Bangladesh in to bat, no doubt hoping for a repetition of the superb bowling that shattered the tourists' top order on that occasion. Chris Mpofu was less accurate this time, and Bangladesh scored 7 off his first over. Brian Vitori however, was generally on the spot, apart from an occasional loose ball, but most of the batsmen were even unable to take advantage of these.

Tamim Iqbal was the first batsman to go, again dismissed by Vitori after he slashed at a ball moving away outside his off stump to give a head-high catch to first slip, having made 3 out of the total of 9. Mpofu then took the wicket of Mushfiqur Rahim, skying an attempted pull to square leg. Imrul Kayes and Shahriar Nafees both fell to catches in the covers while driving, perhaps a sign of the extra bounce. Six wickets tumbled for 58 in 19 overs, and Brendan Taylor deserves credit for greater flexibility in his bowling changes, bringing on Prosper Utseya for the 11th over and seeing him take the wicket of Mahmadullah. He also brought back Vitori earlier than he would have wanted in an effort to break a troublesome stand between Shakib Al Hasan and Nasir Hossain, and he quickly trapped the captain lbw for 26. This reduced Bangladesh to 111 for seven after 35 overs.

Hossain, however, was batting with real spirit on his ODI debut, twice hooking short balls from Mpofu to the boundary, and he found an aggressive partner in Abdur Razzak. The pair added 65 together in ten overs before Hossain holed out on the long-off boundary for a fine fighting innings of 63, scored off 92 balls. The bowler was again Vitori, who now set up a new world record by taking nine wickets in his first two ODIs. However, this late stand again aroused accusations that Zimbabwe, apart from Vitori, lacked the killer instinct to finish off a side that was on the ropes.

Vitori extended his record further with a fifth wicket, knocking out Razzak's off stump as he went for the slog; his 35 had come off 32 balls. A silly run-out ended the innings with the following delivery, for a total of 188, which just exceeded their inadequate total of the first match. Vitori finished with the magnificent figures of five for 20; well as he bowled, the batsmen did not face him with any real resolution. Raymond Price was the only bowler not to take a wicket; he was reasonably restrictive but he does not appear to be in his best form right now.

Zimbabwe soon lost the wicket of Taylor, who pushed forward at a ball from Shafiul Islam outside his off stump without getting over it and was caught low at second slip for 3. Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza came together again and played cautiously at first, but they appeared to be under no pressure. They began to push the ball around for ones and twos, and as they found their feet punctured the field with some handsome, well-placed boundaries. The fifty came up in the 11th over. As in the first match, they looked good enough to make a larger stand than actually materialised, for with the total on 87 Mahmadullah lured Masakadza down the pitch and had him stumped for 38.

Tatenda Taibu soon announced his presence by hitting a ball from Mahmadullah for a superb six over extra cover, which brought up the hundred in the 25th over, and then an even bigger, higher one over long-off. With Sibanda also batting well and completing his fifty (77 balls) with a powerful straight four, the Zimbabwe batsmen were dominating the bowling in a way the Bangladeshis never looked like doing. Rubel Hossain this time did not look like a threat with the old ball, but then the spinners Al Hasan and Nasir Hossain came on to bowl tightly and pin the batsmen down. Sibanda came down the pitch when Mohammad Ashraful was brought on, and was stumped for 67; 146 for three in the 35th over.

Craig Ervine was extremely cautious, scoring just three runs off his first 22 balls, so the scoring slowed and Taibu had to make most of the running. When he was on 46 he pulled a ball straight to deep midwicket, but the chance went down. He reached his fifty (72 balls) with a rare seven - he ran three for a delicate cut, while the good return from the deep clipped the stumps at the bowler's end and went for four overthrows. In the next over he pulled a four to win the match for his team, finishing unbeaten on 57. Zimbabwe are now two-nil up in the five-match series and it is a must win situation for Shakib and his men on Tuesday. Full scorecard below the cut.
Bangladesh 188 (47.3 overs; Nasir Hossain 63, Vitori 5/20), Zimbabwe 191/3 (44.1 overs; Sibanda 67, Mohammad Ashraful 1/26). Zimbabwe win by 7 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]

Victori for Zimbabwe in 1st ODI

It took longer than it should have, but Zimbabwe eased to victory over Bangladesh in the first ODI in Harare, thanks largely to the bowling prowess of Brian Vitori, who became the first Zimbabwean to take a 5-wicket haul on his ODI debut. The 'ordinary' Vitori ripped through the Bangaldeshi top order, who had been put in to bat after Zimbabwe won the toss - with the first wicket of the day being Tamim Iqbal (4), who must surely now be regretting the comments he made about Zimbabwe's bowling attack. The Bangladesh innings was saved only by a 105-run partnership between Shakib Al Hasan (53) and Mushfiqur Rahim (59), who held up the middle order well and frustrated Zimbabwe's bowlers for quite some time before Shakiba finally departed at the end of the 40th over; their innings didn't last too long past that, as they were bowled out for a below-par 184, Vitori finishing with 5/30.

Zimbabwe's reply started shakily, with captain Brendan Taylor going cheaply in the 5th over, but Vusi Sibanda (96) and Hamilton Masakadza (41) knuckled down to creat the foundations for Zimbabwe's win. Masakadza's departure, a needless runout in the 23rd, started a mini-collapse as Tatenda Taibu and Craig Ervine both followed him without scoring, but Forster Mutizwa guided the side to their total, as Zimbabwe secured a 4-wicket win with over 50 balls to spare.

Zimbabwe's winning ways continue, then, and this match has the added bonus of seeing Zim move back above Ireland in the ODI rankings, and into 10th place. Full scorecard below the cut. The 2nd match in the 5-match series is a Harare Sports Club on Sunday, 14th August.
Bangladesh 184 (48.4 overs; Mushfiqur Rahim 59, Vitori 5/30), Zimbabwe 186/6 (41.2 overs; Sibanda 96, Rubel Hossain 4/26). Zimbabwe win by 4 wickets.

Zimbabwe Maul Bangladesh on Test Return

Before Zimbabwe and Bangladesh took to the field on Thursday, I think it's fair to say that most Zim fans would have settled for a fighting draw on their return to Test debut - a win was something that we knew was a possibility, but few dared to raise the possibility: we've had our hopes and expectations dashed so many times by a side that is so often the architect of its own demise, with batting collapse after batting collapse, that a win over five days seemed too much like wishful thinking. Even getting to day five seemed a remote chance.

But day one of the match, which saw just two wickets fall as Zimbabwe put on 264 runs, raised the first glimmer of hope - and set the cricketing press alight with positive stories of the fairytale return to Test cricket that seemed to be taking place. Opening pair Tino Mawoyo (43) and Vusi Sibanda (78) put on 102 runs for the first wicket, before Hamilton Masakadza joined the party against a Bangladeshi attack that seemed in capable of doing anything threatening - he went on to post 104, his 2nd Test ton (the last being on his Test debut against the West Indies 10 years earlier). Bangaldesh clearly did their homework overnight, though, as day two saw a fimilar batting collapse as Zimbabwe were bowled out for 370.

That saw Zimbabwe's new-look bowling attack wheeled into action, with the spin-heavy ODI attack largely replaced and new boys Kyle Jarvis and Brian Vitori - Zimbabwe's "secret weapon" brought in to provide some pace. Vitori struck early, removing Imrul Kayes in the 5th over, and the wickets flowed fairly regularly from there. Resistance was provided by Mohammad Ashraful (73) and captain Shakib Al Hasan (68), but Bangladesh only reached 287 in their reply, giving Zimbabwe a lead of 83 runs and putting them in the driving seat - although a flurry of wickets late on day three, which closed with Zimbabwe on 92/4, gave Bangladesh some much-needed momentum.

It was momentum that they weren't able to capitalise on, as Day Four saw the partnership of Taibu (59) and Taylor dig in; Taibu's was the only wicket to fall in the first two sessions of play, and that was more down to him getting carried away than any bowling flair by Bangaldesh. Together with Craig Ervine (35*), Taylor saw the side to tea, and his own debut Test century, before declaring with Zimbabwe on 291/5, a lead of 375 runs. It was a sporting declaration that Bangladesh enough of a sniff at chasing that they might be tempted to chase.

And chase they did, as Tamim Iqbal launched an early onslaught on Zimbabwe's bowlers before being bowled by Mpofu for 43. Two more wickets in the evening session saw Bangladesh close on 112/3, still in with a shout - but that shout didn't last long. The morning session of the final day saw Zimbabwe's bowlers on fire, perhaps encouraged by so disparaging remarks made the night before by Tamim Iqbal, who labelled the attack 'ordinary' and 'nothing special'. That ordinary and unspectacular attack went on to skittle the remaining Bangldeshi batsmen, needing just two and a half overs after lunch to tie up the tale. Abdur Razzak provided an entertaining cameo appearance, smashing 43 off 28 balls, including 3 consecutive sixes of an unfortunate Ray Price, but by that stage the result was already a foregone conclusion, and Zimbabwe eventually ran out winners by an impressive 130 run margin.

Let the world know: We're back. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 370 (131 overs; Masakadza 104, Shakib Al Hasan 3/84) & 291/5d (92 overs; Taylor 105*, Safiul Islam 1/29), Bangladesh 287 (96.2 overs; Mohammad Ashraful 73, Vitori 4/66) & 244 (57.3 overs; Tamim Iqbal 43, Abdur Razak 43, Jarvis 4/61). Zimbabwe win by 130 runs.

Mutizwa Saves Zimbabwe XI's Blushes to Secure Win Over Bangladeshis

Zimbabwe XI came away from their 3-day warmup match against Bangladeshis with what turned out to be a comfortable 4-wicket win - but it was only on the final day that anyone found enough form with the bat to really make an impression. The first two days were marked by a steady procession of wickets as the bowlers of both sides, helped by a pitch that had been deliberately prepared to be 'lively', made the most of conditions to make life hell for the batsmen. In the first innings, only the Bangaldeshi 7th-wicket pair of Nasir Hossain & Mushfiqur Rahim showed any staying power, putting on 72, a stand that proved to be the difference between the two sides as Bangladeshis were bowled for 188, followed by a miserable 113 by Zimbabwe XI. Bangladeshis' 2nd innings fared even worse - 147 - and with Zimbabwe XI ending the 2nd day on 3/2 chasing 223, it seemed that that 72 stand would be enough to secure Bangladeshis the game.

Day three proved to be rather different from the first two, though, as several of Zimbabwe XI's batsmen finally found their grove: Sikandar Raza led the way with a patient 39, before the 6th-wicket partnership between Craig Ervine and Forster Mutizwa swung the match decidedly Zimbabwe's way. Ervine eventually fell for 42, with the score on 184/6, but Mutizwa and Malcolm Waller guided the side to a much-needed victory - all the more a statement when you consider that this was very much a Zimbabwean 2nd string, while the Bangladeshis were playing very close to their full-strength side.

Mutizwa's heroics came too late to earn him a slot in the squad for Thursday's Test match, but he surely now has put down a marker for himself. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe will go into the Test - the side's first since 2005 - with the confidence that they need to make an impression. Full scorecard below the cut.
Bangladeshis 188 (60.1 overs; Mushfiqur Rahim 64, Ncube 3/40) & 147 (47.5 overs; Shakib Al Hasan 40, Utseya 3/25), Zimbabwe XI 113 (45 overs; Ervine 21, Robiul Islam 3/33) & 225/6 (63.4 overs; Mutizwa 87*, Shakib Al Hasan 2/41). Zimbabwe XI win by 4 wickets.

Full 2011 International Fixtures List

Just done a monster update to our Fixtures page, with full schedules for the following series:

Triangular 'A' Series (Australia 'A', South Africa 'A', Zimbabwe XI)
Australia 'A' in Zimbabwe
Bangladesh in Zimbabwe
Pakistan in Zimbabwe
New Zealand in Zimbabwe

That list includes three Test matches - 2 in Bulawayo, 1 in Harare - and I have to say it felt good typing them in.

Three Tests Included in ZC's 2011 Schedule

Newsday reports that ZC have released their 2011 playing calendar, which includes three Test matches - against Bangladesh, Pakistan and New Zealand - as well as a number of other fixtures to make for a busy year. The playing schedule apparently has the blessing of the ICC, and will also see Zim playing their first home day/night ODIs, against Bangladesh. Here're the details:

July 1-10                       Triangular Series: Australia A, South Africa A, Zimbabwe XI
July 13-23                      Australia A v Zimbabwe XI: 2 unofficial Tests
August 1-21                     Bangladesh v Zimbabwe: 1 Test, 5 ODIs
August 28 - September ??        Pakistan v Zimbabwe: 1 Test, 3 ODIs, 2 T20Is
September 21 - October 3        South Africa v Zimbabwe: 3 ODIs, 2 T20Is
October 21 - November 14        New Zealand v Zimbabwe: 1 Test, 3 ODIs, 2 T20Is

Busy year ahead, then, and ZC seem to be sticking to the 'phased return' plan. The 'A' series provide a good warm-up for the later full series, with the rest of the year making sure that lack of match experience shouldn't be an excuse for anyone. All we need now are some good results...
Newsday - Busy schedule for Zim cricket team

Bangladesh Take Series with Another Convincing Win

Zimbabwe's stuttering top order put paid to any chance of a drawn series in the final ODI against Bangladesh yesterday. Batting first, Zimbabwe struggled from the start - Brendan Taylor (0) departed after facing just two balls, and while Keith Dabengwa (9) and Hamilton Masakadza (6) hung around a bit longer, their abysmally low scoring rate (both with strike rates in the 30s) left Zimbabwe well behind the run rate needed to set a competitive target. Craig Ervine (46) and Tatenda Taibu (64) did a good job of rebuilding in the middle overs, while late cameos by Prosper Utseya and Regis Chakabva gave a brief flurry of runs towards the end of the innings, but Zimbabwe completed their 50 overs with just 188 on the board - well short of a par total.Safiul Islam conceded just 10 runs in his 7 overs, while Shakib Al Hasan took 3/58.

Bangladesh had no such problems in reply, with Tamim Iqbal in particular in imperious form - he hit 95 off 96 balls before being caught impressively by Cremer while trying to bring up his century with a six. After his departure, Junaid Siddique, who had played a patient second-fiddle to Iqbal, took over, scoring an unbeaten 56 as Bangladesh chased down their target with 7 overs to spare. Price was the best of Zimbabwe's bowlers, with 1/25 from his 10 overs.

The win gave Bangladesh a 3-1 series win, which given their current form (they're arguably better than both New Zealand and the West Indies at the moment, their ranking just hasn't caught up to their form) isn't a bad result, but the way in which Zimbabwe played in the matches points out that there's still a lot of work to be done if next year's planned Test return against Bangladesh is to be a competitive one. Full scorecard below the cut.
Bangladesh win by 6 wickets.

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