Sikandar Raza and Innocent Kaia struck centuries as Zimbabwe recovered from a disastrous start to stun Bangladesh with a five-wicket win in the first match on Friday of a three one-day internationals series.
The home team lost openers Regis Chakabva and Tarisai Musakanda with just six runs on the board as they chased a formidable Bangladesh total of 303-2 that included four half centuries.
A third Zimbabwe wicket fell after they lifted the score to 62 and then Raza and Kaia came together to put on 192 for the fourth wicket and set up a brilliant victory as Zimbabwe reached 307-5 with 10 balls to spare.
Raza was unbeaten on 135, including six sixes and eight fours, while Kaia struck two sixes and 11 fours in his 110 before being caught by Shoriful Islam at short fine leg.
“I thought Innocent was brilliant,” said man-of-the-match Raza of his teammate, who was playing in just his fourth ODI.
“I was trying to back him and tell him that if we stayed together we can win this game.
“I wanted to calm him down and encourage him to play good shots instead of just trying to hit the ball too hard.
“Most of the chats we had were about me encouraging him and trying to steady his nerves as we chased a very formidable total.”
Kaia said: “This a big win. Playing against Bangladesh is big for us. When you score your first 100 and go on to win the game, I do not know how to explain this but it is an awesome feeling. I am humbled.”
Captain Chakabva, standing in for injured Craig Ervine, added: “I could not have asked for more from the boys. We spoke during lunch about how we needed somebody to get a 100 and then we get two.”
Bangladesh captain Tamim Iqbal was evidently less euphoric, disappointed with a poor performance in the field as well as a serious hamstring injury to opening batter Liton Das.
“We have been dropping catches regularly and getting away with it, but I knew that one day it would cost us and today was that day,” said Tamim.
“The news about Liton (Das) is not good — I think he could miss the rest of the series. This is what I have heard and I need to check up on some others.”
Bangladesh, seventh in the ODI rankings and eight places above Zimbabwe, took advantage of being put in to bat by building what seemed a winning score.
Opener Liton led the way with an unbeaten 81 before being forced to retire with a suspected hamstring injury. He faced 89 balls and scored one six and nine fours.
Anamul Haque (73), Tamim (62) and Mushfique Rahim (52) were the other scorers of half centuries for a team fresh from a 3-0 ODI hammering of the West Indies last month.
When Tamim reached 57, he became the first Bangladeshi to score 8,000 ODI runs. He departed soon after having skied a Raza delivery to Kaia.
But while the visiting batsmen scored freely, their bowlers had no answers to Pakistan-born Raza and Kaia at Harare Sports Club.
The pair reached centuries within two balls of each other during the 39th over with Kaia scoring his maiden ton through a single while two runs from Raza gave him his fourth 100 in the 50-over format.
Victory continued a remarkable transformation of Zimbabwe since former batting star Dave Houghton began a second stint as coach after 3-0 ODI and Twenty20 whitewashes by Afghanistan in June.
They hosted a T20 World Cup qualifying tournament last month and won all five matches to clinch a place at the main event in Australia from October.
Earlier this week, Zimbabwe edged Bangladesh by 10 runs in a thriller to snatch a 2-1 victory in a T20 series.
Press Release, Source: AFP