Afif Hossain slammed his maiden fifty off 24 balls as Bangladesh defeated Zimbabwe by three wickets to win the first match of the Twenty20 series. (Image credit: ICC Twitter)
At 60/6 in the 10th over in pursuit of 145, Bangladesh's poor form looked set to be prolonged. Zimbabwe, who were playing their first game since being handed a suspension by the ICC for political interference in their cricket board, were in with a great chance to secure a win. However, 19-year-old Afif Hossain smashed his maiden fifty and shared an 82-run stand for the seventh wicket to boost Bangladesh and give them a tense three-wicket win in the final over to give Shakib Al Hasan's side something to cheer after their 224-run loss to Afghanistan in the one-off Test.
The match at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in Mirpur was delayed due to heavy rain and after a lot of hardwork on the outfield, the match was reduced to 18 overs per side. Bangladesh chose to bowl and they struck early when Taijul Islam removed the dangerous Brendan Taylor cheaply. Hamilton Masakadza, who will announce his retirement from all forms of cricket after the end of this tournament, looked good during his knock of 34. However, in the middle overs, Zimbabwe lost four wickets for 12 runs and it required a partnership of 81 between Ryan Burl and Tinotenda Mutombodzi.
After starting off slowly, Burl broke the shackles by blasting a four and a six in the 15th over bowled by Mustafizur Rahman. However, the 16th over witnessed carnage as Burl blasted 30 runs in Shakib's over. Burl launched Shakib's first ball into the stands at deep square leg for a big six and two followed it up with two fours. On the fourth ball, Burl blasted a full toss from Shakib to deep midwicket for yet another six. After another four, the sixth ball was hammered to long on as Burl notched up his maiden fifty.
After play was halted for a couple of minutes due to a power failure, Mutombodzi slammed a couple of fours as Zimbabwe ended up with a decent total. In response, Kyle Jarvis and Tendai Chatara took a couple of wickets as Bangladesh were left reeling at 29/4. Sabbir Rahman and Mahmudullah attempted a partnership but both fell quickly and Bangladesh's hopes were sinking.
Also Read | Are Zimbabwe cricketers ready to play for free?
Afif decided to counterattack and he hammered two fours and a six off Sean Williams and Mosaddek Hossain complimented him well with two sixes off Burl. Afif regularly found the boundaries and when he hammered two boundaries off Jarvis in the 16th over, Bangladesh had the advantage.
The left-hander notched up his maiden fifty off 24 balls but he fell as Bangladesh neared a win but Mohammad Saifuddin smashed a boundary as Bangladesh won with three balls left.