Afif Hossain’s maiden half-century in his second Twenty20 International has propelled Bangladesh to a hard-fought 3-wicket win over Zimbabwe in the tri-nation series opener.
The 19-year-old smashed eight boundaries and one six in the match-winning innings of 52 runs off 26 balls to lift the hosts from 60 for 6 at the Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka on Friday.
Mosaddek Hossain assisted with 30 off 24 to take Bangladesh to the reach the target with 2 balls remaining.
Early in the chase of Zimbabwe’s 144 in the 18-overs-a-side match shortened by rains, the hosts found themselves in huge trouble after being reduced to 4 for 29 in 4.3 overs.
Mahmudullah and Sabbir Rahman tried to put the chase back on track, but were out after a 27-run partnership.
Afif then gave the crowd something to cheer about with a six in the last ball of the 11th over, followed by two more by Mosaddek, bdnews24.com reported.
The visitors grew more and more frustrated as Afif continued hitting the boundaries before being out in the final over, leaving the easy task for Saifuddin who scored a boundary to seal the win.
It was the second maiden half-century of the match as Ryan Burl smashed the first one to revive the hopes of Zimbabwe for a win after early strikes by Bangladesh bowlers.
Coming into the crease at six, the batsman hit five boundaries and four sixes to remain unbeaten on 57 off 32.
Shakib was the most expensive bowler conceding 49 runs in his 4 overs, including 30 in one over during the Burl storm.
After winning the toss, Bangladesh chose to field first and the decision proved to be right initially.
Spinner Taijul Islam struck in the first ball of his T20I career in the second over, taking the wicket of Brendon Taylor, caught by Mahmudullah.
Craig Ervine was the second to go, in the seventh over by Mustafizur Rahman. Mosaddek Hossain took the catch at deep midwicket.
The other opener, Captain Hamilton Masakadza, built some resistance with 34 runs.
But he was out in the next over, trying to hit Saifuddin but caught by Sabbir Rahman at mid off.
Sean Williams was caught and bowled by Mosaddek after another over.
When Captain Shakib Al Hassan ran out Timycen Maruma in the next over to leave them at 63 for 5, Bangladesh cricketers and fans in the gallery burst into celebrations as it seemed very much possible to bundle Zimbabwe out for a meagre total.
Tinotenda Mutombodzi (27* off 26) then partnered with Burl to fend off the setbacks.
But Afif’s blazing innings denied the visitors a win they desired most as the African side are struggling to tackle different sorts of problems, with the International Cricket Council suspension on the country's cricket administration for government interference as the biggest and latest one.
For the hosts, the preparation for the T20 World Cup 2020 begins with concerns over veterans failing in the top-order and hopes of recovery by newcomers.
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