Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Razzak's Drama and comfortable win of Bangladesh

Mid-way through an overcast morning, Bangladesh were in a familiar predicament: the top-order had failed and Shakib Al Hasan, the reluctant captain, was saddled with the responsibility of achieving a target his spinners could defend on a pitch that assisted turn. Having had ample practice at this challenge, Shakib went about it manfully, but he also had an able ally. His risk-free batting was at odds with Mushfiqur Rahim's impish stroke play but their 116-run stand was the bedrock of the highest total of the series. It proved more than enough.

Shakib waited only three overs before entrusting the defence of 246 to a spinner. He had to wait only three balls to see that decision yield results. Abdur Razzak continued his torment of Zimbabwe in this series: his quick strikes decapitated the chase, his economy brought it to a standstill and Bangladesh were assured of a 2-1 lead by the time the mandatory Powerplay was over.

The heart of the victory lay in the way Bangladesh, for the second time in succession, batted satisfactorily. They didn't begin in that manner, though, and were 71 for 4 in the 20th over, when Shakib and Mushfiqur began their alliance. The Zimbabwe spinners had tightened the tourniquet on the run-flow and Shakib had been watchful - a back-foot cut through point would be his only boundary for 54 balls. Little Mushfiqur, in contrast, was anything but watchful at the start of his innings, slicing Prosper Utseya just wide of the fielder at point before dispatching the next ball to the midwicket boundary with a dismissive swat.

The partnership would not have reached the proportions it did, had Tatenda Taibu stumped Mushfiqur on 14, when the batsman advanced and missed an on-drive. Mushfiqur, undeterred, attempted a flamboyant cut next ball and edged over the short third man. Thereafter, he too reduced the risk.

Utseya made so many bowling changes during the middle overs that it was hard to keep count, but Shakib and Mushfiqur played them all adeptly. When Shakib reached his fifty in the 38th over, Bangladesh were in control. Mushfiqur's cutting was the highlight of his innings and one off the stumps against Ray Price brought up his half-century. Shortly after, Mushfiqur swung Graeme Cremer over midwicket for the innings' only six in the 42nd over.

Bangladesh kept the batting Powerplay for the last five overs, the intention being for Shakib and Mushfiqur to surge. Those plans were undone by Utseya, standing in as captain for the injured Elton Chigumbura. He had Mushfiqur caught at deep backward square just before the Powerplay, and trapped Shakib lbw while attempting a reverse-scoop soon after. Bangladesh's set batsmen were gone, but wayward bowling yielded 30 runs from the final two overs of the innings.

Three overs into the chase, Shakib had seen enough of seam from both ends and gave Razzak the ball. Moments later, Chamu Chibhabha went back into his crease to play a ball. Mistake. Razzak skidded the arm ball through and it would have hit leg stump had the pad not been in the way

Brendan Taylor and Hamilton Masakadza made an effort to play Razzak off the front foot. Masakadza took the ploy too far, though. His charge and heave against the spin connected with nothing, and Mushfiqur stumped him. At the other end, Taylor continued pressing forward and nearly survived the mandatory Powerplay. To its final ball, he was unsure whether to move forward or not. Razzak got the ball to turn, kick, and take the edge towards first slip. Zimbabwe were 29 for 3.

Shakib gave Razzak a break after that and brought back Shafiul Islam, who induced an edge from Craig Ervine that went to the third-man boundary in the 12th over - only the second four of the innings. In his next over, Shafiul drew another edge from Ervine, this time to Mushfiqur.

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