x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Steady Ashraful leads Bangladesh to victory

Mohammad Ashraful hit an unbeaten century to guide Bangladesh to an eight-wicket win in the opening match of their one-day series against Zimbabwe.

BULAWAYO // Mohammad Ashraful hit an unbeaten century to guide Bangladesh to an eight-wicket win in the opening match of their one-day series against Zimbabwe. Having restricted the hosts to 207 all out in their innings at the Queens Sports Club, Bangladesh cruised to their victory target in less than 35 overs, Ashraful leading the way with a run-a-ball knock of 103. Tamim Iqbal added 63 at the top of the order and shared a 137-run partnership with Ashraful for the second wicket.

Only Mark Vermeulen made a meaningful contribution for Zimbabwe with a 92 on his return to international cricket which went some way to compensating for an awful start which saw the home side slump to 25 for two. Nazmul Hossain claimed one of those two early wickets and finished as the stand-out bowler with three for 29. The spinners, Shakib al Hasan and Mohammad Mahmudullah, took two wickets each for Bangladesh.

Ashraful had a steady start and showed his intent in avoiding a collapse after the opener Junaid Siddique left with a quickfire 21 from just 12 balls. Once settled, Ashraful bloomed to hit 12 fours and two sixes to get the man of the match award. "The last two years I was captain and I didn't bat that well," Ashraful said. "Now, I'm playing better and enjoying my cricket. I am more relaxed." Earlier, Vermeulen put on 48 with Brendan Taylor, who scored 19 before Hasan trapped him lbw to make it 74 for three. Wickets then fell at regular intervals, with Elton Chigumbura (20) and Charles Coventry (19) the only other batsmen to get a start.

"We lost too many wickets and should have applied ourselves more," the Zimbabwe captain Prosper Utseya said. "We needed to keep wickets in hand and attack in the middle overs." * Agencies