Sylhet (Agencies): Bangladesh survived a thrilling late rally from Zimbabwe’s lower order to secure a four-run win in an epic finish in Sylhet. After Tamim Iqbal’s record-breaking 158 had boosted Bangladesh to 322 for 8, Zimbabwe appeared out of the hunt when they slipped to 225 for 7 in the 42nd over.
But Donald Tiripano and Tinotenda Mutombodzi launched a rousing counter-attack with an eighth wicket stand that brought 80 runs in just 7.3 overs. Tiripano struck five enormous sixes, including two in the final over, but he needed to hit another one off the final ball to secure the fairytale finish. It was not to be, Al-Amin Hossain holding his nerve at the last to seal the series for Bangladesh.
Mutombodzi and Tiripano’s partnership was a new record for the eighth wicket in ODIs in Bangladesh, and was all the more remarkable given the situation in which it arose. When Sikandar Raza sliced Mashrafe Mortaza to third man to fall for 66, Zimbabwe’s last frontline batsman was back in the dugout and the required rate was well over 12 an over. Tiripano’s career strike-rate in ODIs before this knock was a shade over 56, and he is more known for his stodge than his flair. Mutombodzi’s career strike-rate was barely any better.
It seemed that the match would fizzle out when the asking rate peaked above 15 with five overs to go, but Zimbabwe would not go quietly into the night this time and Tiripano sparked an incredible fightback. With Mutombodzi trailing in his wake, 16 runs flowed from the 46th over and 20 from the 47th, the fifty stand being raised in just 4.4 overs. Suddenly, Bangladesh were the team under pressure, but Shafiul Islam and Hossain then found their range with the yorker to set up a grandstand finish: 20 runs required from the last six balls. After a single and a wide, Zimbabwe once again appeared buried when Mutombodzi holed out to long-on. But Tiripano surged once more with back-to-back sixes, the second of which took him to a maiden ODI fifty.
With Zimbabwe hunting six from the last two balls, Hossain was very fortunate to get away with a bouncer that cleared Tiripano’s head by some distance, leaving Zimbabwe needing a miracle from the last ball.
In a breathless finish, Hossain held his nerve as Tiripano could only manage a toe-ended single down to long-off.