Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Young Afif Hossain gate crashes Zimbabwe's party

Afif Hossain flays the ball through cover International Cricket Council

Bangladesh 148 for 7 (Afif Hossain 52, Madziva 2-25) beat Zimbabwe 144 for 5 (Burl 57*, Mosaddek 1-10) by three wickets

18-overs a side

On a dramatic evening in Dhaka, Bangladesh overpowered a spirited Zimbabwe to win a see-sawing opening match of the tri-series by three wickets. With little to separate the two teams, it was an 82-run seventh-wicket stand between Afif Hossain and Mosaddek Hossain that made the difference, setting up Bangladesh's chase.

Afternoon rain meant the start of the game was delayed by around two hours and reduced to 18 overs a side, but once play began the action was relentless. Taijul Islam became the very first Bangladesh bowler to strike with his first ball on T20I debut and Zimbabwe's middle order crumpled before Ryan Burl and Tinotenda Mutombodzi patched up the innings, Burl launching a blistering attack on Shakib Al Hasan to register his maiden T20I fifty.

Zimbabwe had been 63 for 5 before their stand, and Bangladesh slipped to an even more perilous 60 for 6 before Afif and Mosaddek launched their game-changing counter attack. Afif charged to a maiden fifty of his own, and Bangladesh got over the line with two balls to spare.

Taijul's perfect start

Taijul clearly enjoys playing against Zimbabwe at this ground. In just the third Test of his career, he took what remains a career-best 8 for 39 against them in October 2014. Two months later, he made his ODI debut at this ground, against the same opponents, and became the first bowler ever to take a hat-trick on debut. So there was always going to be a good chance that he would make an impact once again when Shakib tossed him the ball to bowl the second over of the innings.

Taijul didn't disappoint, drawing an injudicious heave from Brendan Taylor with his very first delivery. The ball skewed off the top edge and looped up to be easily pouched by Mahmudullah at short third man.

Some trademark biffing from Hamilton Masakadza helped Zimbabwe to overcome the early loss of Taylor, with sweeps orthodox, reverse, paddled and slogged to reap boundaries on both sides of the wicket. The fifty came up in the seventh over, but then came a mini-collapse as four wickets fell in the space of four overs. Mustafizur Rahman struck in his first over, Mohammad Saifuddin his second, and Mosaddek nipped Sean Williams out with his first ball. When Timycen Maruma was needlessly run out, Zimbabwe were in serious strife at 63 for 5.

The Ryan and Tino show

Before today, Burl and Mutombodzi had played a combined 13 T20Is between them, and neither will have registered as threats on Bangladesh's radar. Neither looked like turning the innings around as they groped and poked their way through probing overs from spin and seam alike in the middle of the innings. With four overs to go and time swiftly running out, Burl finally found his range, crunching Mustafizur over wide long-on and then paddling him to fine leg.

Then came an onslaught the likes of which Shakib had never before experienced as Burl took on the world's leading limited-overs allrounder - and won. Favouring the leg side, Burl unfurled an array of attacking strokes as 30 runs flowed from the over, the most Shakib has ever conceded in this format. Burl raised his maiden T20I fifty and Mutombodzi joined the party in the next over, crunching a meaty blow over cow corner. Together they had successfully repaired Zimbabwe's innings with an 81-run stand: a Zimbabwean record in this format.

Bangladesh's top order collapse

After Williams' left-arm spin opened the chase, Masakadza brought on the quicks, put himself at slip, and kept himself there even as both Kyle Jarvis and Tendai Chatara over-stepped and gave away Free Hits in their first overs. Masakadza, nevertheless, kept his faith in his quicks, even as Bangladesh cruised to 26 for 0. Then came a collapse that put Zimbabwe's wobble earlier in the evening in the shade, as four wickets fell in the space of 10 deliveries, with Jarvis and Chatara picking up two apiece.

The Afif and Mosaddek show

When Burl put himself back into the action by taking a blinder of a catch in the deep to get rid of Sabbir Rahman, Bangladesh were six down in the 10th over and increasingly rudderless. Enter Afif, just 19 years old, barely over five feet tall and possessed of a rake thin frame that belied wrists of steel and an unflinching temperament.

Afif slapped the very first ball he faced from Madziva, who had his tail up after an early strike, straight back over the bowler's head and continued in much the same vein. Williams was immediately dispatched for 15 runs off his second over, and Mosaddek followed Afif's lead by swiping a brace of sixes off Burl's legspin. A run rate that had been creeping up towards 10 was brought back close to a run a ball by two extraordinarily deft boundaries - ramped over short third man, and then scooped over short fine leg - off Jarvis.

As the match slipped out of Zimbabwe's grasp, sloppiness crept into their fielding effort, and Afif brought up a 24-ball fifty thanks to a fluffed run-out chance by Chatara. With three needed from the last five deliveries, Masakadza held onto a stinger in the covers to finally see the back of Afif, but Saifuddin walked in and tonked the second ball he faced cleanly to midwicket to bring a breathless match to an end, much to the enjoyment of the fans who had packed the stands despite the early rain.

Bangladesh 2nd innings Partnerships

1st26Soumya SarkarLiton Das
2nd0Shakib Al HasanSoumya Sarkar
3rd1Mushfiqur RahimShakib Al Hasan
4th2MahmudullahShakib Al Hasan
5th27MahmudullahSabbir Rahman
6th4Sabbir RahmanMosaddek Hossain
7th82Mosaddek HossainAfif Hossain
8th6Mosaddek HossainMohammad Saifuddin