Zimbabwe captain Sikandar Raza lauded his young side for keeping its cool and sealing a 23-run win over Bangladesh in the second T20I. It was the hosts' first win of the tour after going down in the one-off Test, all three matches of the ODI series, and the first game of this T20I series as well.
Zimbabwe's up-and-down form has been the result of a team in a rebuilding stage. In this squad, apart from Raza, who has played 41 T20Is, only Ryan Burl and Tendai Chatara have played more than 20 T20Is. Numerous youngsters have only just made their debuts on this tour or earlier this year. Even with that much inexperience, Zimbabwe had pushed Bangladesh at various stages of the series.
"We took it to the last over in the second and third ODI, and it was another close game yesterday in the first T20," Raza told ESPNcricinfo. "I always believed and prayed that things will turn. It was a matter of who can hold the nerve a bit longer. I thought we were fantastic today. I think 23 runs is a healthy margin in a T20. It is a good commanding win.
"You have to allow youngsters to express themselves, and while they are doing that, they will make mistakes as well. You try to cover for them in batting and bowling, when someone is straying from the plan."
Opener Wessley Madhevere was adjudged Player of the Match for the first time in his career, for his 57-ball 73 which guided Zimbabwe to a competitive 166 for 6. Raza felt that Madhevere batting till the 18th over was crucial, so too were contributions from Dion Myers (26 off 21) and Burl (34 off 19).
"Wes' innings was great. The best part was that he batted in the last few overs as well. There are a few performances that mustn't go unnoticed.
"I thought the way young Dion Myers batted till the 12th over after going in at the fall of two early wickets, was fantastic. Ryan Burl's power-hitting showed how valuable he is at the end of the innings. It was a turning point for us," he said.
"Blessing got two wickets at the start. Chatara got the valuable wicket when Afif [Hossain] and Shamim [Hossain] were putting foot to the pedal. Luke also took a three-for, so I thought everybody bowled really well," he said.
Raza is leading a side that's without Brendan Taylor, Craig Ervine and Sean Williams - three of the most experienced cricketers in the Zimbabwe set-up. Taylor has been rested while Williams and Ervine have been sidelined after coming into close contact with Covid-19 patients.
Raza said that it wasn't difficult to motivate players at this level. "As long as I as the captain keeps a calm head and not panic, it gives me a great chance to make those vital decisions at the right time.
"You don't need much to turn things around. Everyone is hungry to win international cricket. Despite getting so close in the previous games, we didn't lose faith," he said.