Fine half-centuries by Mohammad Naim (63 not out) and Soumya Sarkar (50) helped Bangladesh defeat hosts Zimbabwe by eight wickets in the opening T20 International at the Harare Sports Club to go 1-0 up in the three-match series.
Set a target of 153 for victory, after Zimbabwe wicket-keeper Regis Chakabva (43) and Dion Myers (35) were the only batsmen who could bat with some degree off authority, the tourists notched up the required runs with seven balls remaining, with Naim and Sarkar involved in a 102-run opening stand.
In the absence of Sean Williams and Brendan Taylor, Sikander Raza captained Zimbabwe in the first T20I. The home side didn’t get off to a great start as Mustafizur Rahman removed Tadiwanashe Marumani (7) in just the second over of the innings, courtesy of a stunning running catch by Sarkar.
Wessley Madhevere and Chakabva then got together to string a 64-run stand off just 38 balls, with the latter assuming the role of the aggressor. Shakib Al Hasan broke the partnership with a caught and bowled to dismiss Madevere (23) before wicketkeeper Nurul Hasan showed presence of mind to run Chakabva out.
Myers, making his T20I debut for Zimbabwe, kept the scoreboard ticking with a 22-ball 35 but didn’t find enough support at the other end as Sikander Raza (0) and Tarisai Musakanda (6) got out playing loose shots.
Mohammad Saifuddin and Mustafizur Rahman picked up two wickets each in the 18th and 19th over to bundle the hosts out for 152, who were at 91/2 at the halfway stage.
Bangladesh got off to a great start in their chase, with Naim taking the attack to the bowlers while Sarkar was solid at the other end. The two put together a 102-run partnership, the highest opening wicket stand for Bangladesh in T20Is, a record previously held by Tamim Iqbal and Liton Das (92), which incidentally came against Zimbabwe in March last year.
Brief scores: Zimbabwe 152 in 19 overs (R Chakabva 43, D Myers 35; M Saifuddin 2/23, M Rahman 3/31, S Islam 2/17) lost to Bangladesh 153/2 in 18.5 overs (M Naim 63 not out, S Sarkar 50) by eight wickets.