It was a series where Bangladesh had a lot to prove as they were playing without two of their most experienced players in Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan. Centuries by Imrul Kayes and Soumya Sarker have propelled Bangladesh to a 3-0 ODI series whitewash of Zimbabwe with a thumping seven-wicket victory.
Kayes continued his dazzling form in the series while Soumya made a comeback in style to put record 220 off 180 for the second wicket at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram on Friday.
The series witnessed the rise of a consistent Imrul, the transformation of a once-struggling Soumya and the emergence of a pace-bowling all-rounder in the form of Mohammad Saifuddin. Most importantly, it was a collective and clinical approach from the Tigers that bucked a recent trend of individual brilliance making up for collective frailty.
Mushfiqur Rahim made sure the Tigers do not lose the way with 28 off 39, finishing with a six when his side needed five runs to overhaul Zimbabwe’s 286 with 48 balls in hand.
In the chase of 287, the Tigers lost opener Liton Das in the very fast delivery of their innings, raising fears of a batting debacle.
Liton, whose 83 in a tremendous opening stand with Kayes earned Bangladesh a comfortable win in the second match, was trapped leg before by Kyle Jarvis.
The batsman challenged the decision in vain, slightly hurting his chances of getting a permanent spot in the team as Tamim Iqbal’s opening partner.
Kayes, aided by Soumya at the other end, then started finding the boundary at regular intervals in the powerplay.
Soumya followed up after the 20th over, when Bangladesh’s score was 130, taking 63 quick runs in the next 10 overs.
He finally completed his comeback with 117 off 92, hitting nine boundaries and six sixes.
Selectors also breathed a sigh of relief as it was his second ODI century in his 35th match after the first one in the 10th in April 2015.
Kayes started the series with a brilliant 144 but missed the century by 10 runs in the second match.
In the last match, Kayes achieved another landmark – he scored the most runs among Bangladeshi batsmen in a bilateral series.
Bangladesh broke quite a few records in the process — Imrul and Soumya’s 220-run second-wicket partnership was the highest for the Tigers for that wicket and second-highest for any wicket. The previous record for the highest second-wicket partnership was the 217-run stand between Tamim and Shakib against West Indies this year.
It was also only the third occasion that two Bangladesh batsman struck hundreds in a game. Hundreds from Tamim and Mushfiqur against Pakistan in 2015 and the twin hundreds from Shakib and Mahmudullah Riyad against New Zealand in the Champions Trophy in Cardiff last year are the previous instances.
Imrul struck his fourth ODI hundred — two of those came in this series — and became the highest run-scorer in a three-match series for Bangladesh, piling on 349 runs by the time his 112-ball 115 ended in a catch to the deep. Tamim held the previous record, scoring 312 runs against Pakistan in 2015.
Earlier, Sean Williams emerged as the hero as he helped his team post their highest total of the series with an unbeaten career-best 129 after they had lost openers Cephas Zhuwao and Hamilton Masakadza in the first three overs.
Williams was supported in the rescue act by Brandon Taylor, who had scored the same number of runs – 75 – in the second match. The pair added 132 runs for the third wicket. Taylor was however dismissed top-edging a slog sweep, scoring 75 off 72 balls with 10 fours and a six.
Mohammad Saifuddin and Abu Hider Rony’s inclusion in the playing eleven was proved the right decision as the youngsters shook Zimbabwe by taking the wickets of Zhuwao and Masakadza respectively.
The tourists failed to score a single run off 22 consecutive deliveries in the first five overs.
Williams then paired with Sikandar Raza and added 84 runs for the fourth wicket before Raza departed after scoring forty.
Zimbabwe, however, managed another partnership. Peter Moor hit two sixes in two consecutive deliveries by Mashrafe for his 28 off 21. His 62-run stand with Williams helped Zimbabwe throw a strong challenge, which Bangladesh overcame to complete their 12th ODI series sweep.