Zimbabwe 307 for 5 (Raza 135*, Kaia 110, Mustafizur 1-57) beat Bangladesh 303 for 2 (Litton 81, Anamul 73, Raza 1-48) by five wickets
Kaia displayed a refreshing batting approach, concentrating on keeping the ball all along the ground. Still he picked up 11 fours and maintained a strike rate of 90.16 by running himself ragged for those ones and twos. He hit two two sixes over midwicket, but he never tried to out-hit the man of the moment.
Raza, recently named Player of the Series at the T20 World Cup qualifier, grabbed the game with both hands and struck 14 boundaries including six sixes, the last of which was the winning hit. He had earlier been their best bowler too, taking 1-48.
Things had been so different at the start of the chase. Regis Chakabva barely had any time to soak in the fact that he was the first Zimbabwean to captain, keep wicket and open the batting since Andy Flower in 1996. He chopped a Mustafizur Rahman delivery on to his leg-stump for 2. Tarisai Musakanda skied Shoriful Islam to cover in the next over, and Zimbabwe were suddenly 6 for 2.
Wessly Madhevere fended Bangladesh off, with Kaia, adding 56 runs for the third wicket. But the partnership ended disastrously when miscommunication between the two, having seen a fumble out in the deep, resulted in an entirely avoidable run-out.
That brought Zimbabwe’s match-winners together and though there were a few iffy moments – substitute Taijul Islam dropped Raza on 43, a simple chance at cover. Kaia was dropped twice in the same Shoriful over on 68 and 74 respectively – they soon settled into rhythm.
Raza was the dominant one in the partnership, starting his six-hitting in the 21st over when he hammered Shoriful down the ground. He pulled Taskin over midwicket, took a five-over break between the 25th and the 30th, then smashed Mustafizur straight back over his head to reach his fifty. He thrashed his next six off Mehidy Hasan Miraz, pulled Shoriful over midwicket for good measure and finally sealed the match with 10 balls to spare by carting Mosaddek Hossain over the ropes as well.
Luke Jongwe played an important hand (24 off 19) after Kaia got out for 110 in the 42nd over.
Tamim couldn’t find a wicket taker among his bowlers. To make matters worse, Shoriful looked to have hurt his knee. Their gamble to go without a left-arm spinner for the first time against Zimbabwe also hurt them.
After Tamim’s departure, Litton got to his seventh fifty, and suddenly got into a groove to hit a cluster of fours and a six to get to 81. But while taking a quick first run, he pulled his hamstring, and had to stretchered off after the second drinks break.
Anamul followed the openers with his first fifty for Bangladesh in almost eight years. This was also the innings in which he struck the ball the sweetest since making his comeback this year. Anamul got into the Bangladesh side with a world record 1,138 runs in the domestic List-A tournament, the Dhaka Premier League. He continued on the same vein against Zimbabwe, hitting his tenth one-day fifty in 2022, and this was his sixth in a row in this format.
Anamul added 96 runs for the second wicket with Mushfiqur, as the pair got into the last ten overs with a gung-ho approach. But after taking 51 runs between the 41st and 45th, they got only 39 runs in the last five. The Zimbabwe bowlers pulling back the scoring rate was their only success in an innings in which they took just two wickets.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84