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Sarkar’s all-round efforts help Bangladesh beat Zimbabwe in third T20I to win series 2-1

Soumya Sarkar. Photo: ICC

Harare, July 25 (MNN) Soumya Sarkar returned figures of 2/19 and then scored a career-best 68 to ensure Bangladesh beat Zimbabwe in the third and final T20I by five wickets to take the series 2-1.

Opting to bat first, Zimbabwe got off to a flying start with openers Tadiwanashe Marumani and Wessley Madhevere taking the attack to the bowlers, the ICC reports.

Madhevere in particular showed great intent and smashed Taskin Ahmed for five consecutive fours in the fourth over of the innings.

The home side finished the Powerplay at 63/1, with Mohammad Saifuddin claiming the wicket of Marumani on the last ball of the sixth over.

Regis Chakabva, who has been one of Zimbabwe’s few bright spots on the tour, joined Madhevere at the crease and ensured the scoring rate did not drop after the fielding restrictions as they raced to 101 at the end of 10 overs.

It took a brilliant two-player catch off Soumya Sarkar on the boundary to bring Chakabva’s 22-ball 48 blitzkrieg to an end.

In the same over, Sarkar removed Sikander Raza for a duck, his second of the series, as the stand-in skipper’s poor form continued. Madhevere kept going despite losing partners at the other end and brought up his fifty with a four in just 31 balls.

However, his innings too soon came to an end as he top-edged a reverse sweep to the third man off Shakib Al Hasan.

Dion Myers’s solid knock of 23 and Ryan Burl’s quickfire 15-ball 31* took Zimbabwe to 193/5 at the end of 20 overs. Sarkar was the pick of the bowlers with 2/19 in three overs while Shakib, Shoriful and Saifuddin accounted for a wicket each.

Bangladesh’s chase of 194 got off to a bad start as they lost Mohammad Naim in the third over. Shakib and Sarkar kept the scoreboard ticking but didn’t really tee off in the Powerplay, finishing at 50/1 after six overs.

With the asking rate over 10.5 and climbing, Shakib hit Luke Jongwe for two consecutive sixes in the eighth over but holed out in the deep trying to clear the fielder at long off.

Still needing 124 off 74 balls at that point, the visitors couldn’t afford to slow down and decided to take the attack to the opposition.

Sarkar soon brought up his half-century and kept hitting crucial boundaries in the company of skipper Mahmudullah, who himself was striking at a rate of over 150 at that point.

As the partnership threatened to take the game away from Zimbabwe, a slower ball from Jongwe got the better of Sarkar. A vital cameo of 14 runs from Afif Hossain made sure that the required run-rate was within reach heading into the death overs.

The 18th over from Myers completely shifted the momentum in Bangladesh’s favour. Shamim Hossain targetted the 19-year-old, hitting him for three consecutive fours in an over that fetched the visitors 15 runs.

Needing just 13 in the last two overs, Bangladesh completed their second-highest chase in T20Is with four balls to spare, despite losing Mahmudullah in the 19th over, with Shamim hitting the winning runs as he remained unbeaten on 31 off just 15 balls.

Soumya Sarkar fetched the Player of the Match for his all-round exploits and also picked up the Player of the Series award for 126 runs and three wickets in the three games.

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