Zimbabwe win series opener

Bangladesh

Hamilton Masakadza's half-century blitz and a superb all-round performance with the ball afforded Zimbabwe an 11-run victory over Bangladesh in game one of the unofficial Twenty20 tri-series in Harare on Sunday.

Hamilton Masakadza's half-century blitz and a superb all-round performance with the ball afforded Zimbabwe an 11-run victory over Bangladesh in game one of the unofficial Twenty20 tri-series at the Harare Sports Club on Sunday.

A thoroughly professional performance from the hosts set an early benchmark for a tournament that also features South Africa, while Bangladesh will rue the collective inability of their opening batsmen to increase the scoring rate during a stifling 61-run partnership.

Zimbabwe's total of 154 for six was orchestrated on the back of a solid effort from Masakadza, who carried forward his form in Friday's warm-up match, in which he smashed a quickfire century.

The right-hander spent just 35 balls at the crease for his 62 runs, cranking six fours and four sixes in the process. Such was the hefty pace of his hitting, opening partner Vusi Sibanda managed just seven runs in their 47-run alliance.

Captain Brendan Taylor later offered Man of the Match Masakadza longer term support with a complementary cameo of 38, after which some late-innings hitting from Stuart Matsikenyeri and Graeme Cremer pushed the total beyond 150.

Bangladesh's reply took on a promising start thanks to Tamim Iqbal and Mohammad Ashraful. The duo, however, were relatively pedestrian in their approach – perhaps too comfortable against an underestimated opposition attack.

Their scoring rate of 6.42 was almost two runs shy of the asking rate and, really, left the middle order with far too much to do. Chris Mpofu and fellow seamers were quick to capitalise on the gap.

While the strike bowler was key in the dismissal of Iqbal for 38 – the top score of the Bangladesh innings – and Ziaur Rahman soon thereafter, Kyle Jarvis and Richard Muzhange were outstanding in combination.

Nasir Hossain, striking an unbeaten 29 off just 15, tried his best to keep his side in the hunt. Ultimately, his effort was in vain.

Just five wickets down at the conclusion of the 20th over, the Tigers will know full well that they should have pushed harder earlier. Perhaps the inclusion of stalwart all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, who withdrew from the series in a quest for rest, would have brought an entirely more driven dynamic to the tourists' cause.

They have little time to recover and regroup, as South Africa await on Tuesday. Zimbabwe's next game is against the Proteas on Wednesday.

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