Kayes red-hot again as Tigers complete whitewash over Zimbabwe

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Imrul Kayes and Soumya Sarkar shared a record-breaking 220-run partnership as Bangladesh comfortably chased down 287 to claim a 3-0 series whitewash over Zimbabwe in Chittagong.

It was a game of strong batting partnerships, with Sean Williams’ career-best 129 not out off 143 balls earlier powering Zimbabwe to a useful 286/5. Having recovered from the early loss of both openers, Williams shared valuable partnerships with Brendan Taylor (132-run stand), Sikandar Raza (84-run stand) and Peter Moor (quickfire 63-run stand), but it was all in vain as Kayes and Sarkar bullied the Zimbabwe bowlers after Liton Das was removed on the first ball of the Bangladesh innings.

Kayes continued his stunning form, while Soumya’s knock could be the making of him – he was only added to the ODI squad as a “batting reinforcement” a few days ago. He was also an emergency call-up during the Asia Cup after the injury to Tamim Iqbal and amid question marks over Bangladesh’s top order.

In his two Asia Cup outings, the all-rounder got a five-ball duck opening the batting against Pakistan and contributed 33 in the final against India, where he batted at No. 7. Today, he was in at first-drop – and grabbed the opportunity with both hands.

Zimbabwe’s day got off to a sour note when Hamilton Masakadza lost his third toss in a row before Cephas Zhuwao slashed wildly across the line to be bowled for a duck. Masakadza soon chopped on off an Abu Hider delivery and at 6/2 inside three overs things were looking bleak. But, refusing to go into their shell, Taylor and Williams took the attack to the Bangladesh bowlers.

Williams exhibited a versatile tempo throughout his knock, anchoring the stand between him and Taylor, who played with freedom from the outset, before taking further responsibility later on.

With the series already in the bag, the absence of Mustafizur Rahman and Mehidy Hasan was clearly felt, with the Bangladesh attack lacking bite. When Taylor reached his half-century in the 20th over, Mashrafe Mortaza turned to spin, and the sweep shot proved fruitful for the batting duo – both orthodox and reverse.

When Taylor (75) played one heave too many against Nazmul Islam, Williams soon reached his fifty and went up a gear, amply supported by the aggressive Raza, who confirmed his mindset when he smashed his first ball for six over long on.

Brendan Taylor (L) celebrates with Sean Williams after reaching 50 during the third ODI between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe

Williams and Raza took their partnership beyond 50 with Williams entering the eighties, but then the boundaries dried up as the pair entered the final third of the innings – at one point they had gone 31 deliveries without a four or six.

When Raza slogged a high full toss straight to Sarkar at long-on, a repeat of the second ODI threatened, but a late flurry proved fruitful. Williams reached three figures, while Moor hit Mortaza for two maximums. In the second ODI, Zimbabwe managed only 19 runs from the final five overs but scored 48 during that period today. The consensus was that 286 was a sizeable score on this pitch.

Bangladesh’s innings got off to the worst start when Jarvis fired the first delivery of the innings into Das’ pads. After the opener failed to connect with an attempted flick the umpire raised his index finger before Das opted to review, but DRS revealed it was clipping leg stump and was therefore umpire’s call, so he had to go.

From thereon, a stunning partnership between Kayes and Sarkar carried Bangladesh into a commanding position. After nine overs, Bangladesh were 71/1, compared to Zimbabwe’s 33/1 at the same stage earlier.

Sarkar played masterfully, timing the ball beautifully and looking in total control, while Kayes played high-risk cricket and road his fair share of luck, but when he’s in this form, who can criticise his audacity?

Soumya Sarkar batted beautifully on his return to the Bangladesh side

Sarkar brought up his half-century in stunning fashion, dancing down the deck to smack it a long way over the midwicket boundary. Hamilton Masakadza and his bowlers, who had struggled to hit their lengths at times, were running out of ideas.

The duo broke the Bangladesh ODI record for all wickets when the partnership reached 198, while Kayes overtook Tamim Iqbal for the highest tally of runs for Bangladesh in a bilateral series. Sarkar, however, was now bossing the innings, hitting back-to-back sixes off Wellington Masakadza. Having taken 54 balls to reach his half-century, he rocketed his way to a sensational 81-ball hundred, notching his sixth six of the innings soon after.

Hamilton Masakadza came on for an increasingly rare bowl, removing Soumya (117 from 92 balls) who played one big shot too many before holing out in the deep to conclude a fine knock. Despite that, the innings meandered to an inevitable conclusion, but not before Wellington removed Kayes after the opener secured a 99-ball hundred (he finished on 115 from 112).

Bangladesh will hope to take this momentum into the two-Test series, with the first starting on 3 November in Sylhet.