Youngster Afif Hossain struck 52 off 26 balls as Bangladesh survived a scare to beat Zimbabwe by three wickets in the opening match of the tri-nation Twenty20 international tournament in Dhaka on Friday. Afif, batting at number eight, hit eight fours and a six in his maiden international fifty that guided Bangladesh to 148-7 in 17.4 overs after the hosts restricted Zimbabwe to 144-5 in the rain-hit 18-overs-per-side match.
The hosts looked down and out when they lost their first six wickets for 60 runs before 19-year-old Afif shared 82 runs for the seventh wicket with Mosaddek Hossain to turn the match around. Neville Madziva dismissed Afif in the final over of the innings but Mohammad Saifuddin took six runs from his next two balls to complete the win, which ended Bangladesh’s six-match losing streak in all formats.
Mosaddek, who provided Afif brilliant support in the record stand, was unbeaten on 30 from 24 balls. Afif’s performance overshadowed an excellent effort by Ryan Burl who hit 57 off 32 balls to help Zimbabwe recover from 63-5 to post a competitive score. Burl also claimed a wicket with his leg-spin bowling and took a stunning catch in the field before Zimbabwe let the momentum slip.
“(I) was trying to be positive from the front. I was excited to play, having got an opportunity after so long,” said man-of-the-match Afif who was playing only his second Twenty20 international and first in almost two years.
Zimbabwe captain Hamilton Masakadza hailed his side’s performance in a losing cause. “Guys at the back did well to get us a fighting total. Ryan (Burl) struck the ball nicely and had a brilliant game today,” he said.
Burl hit five fours and four sixes in his maiden T20I fifty and smashed 30 runs in one over off Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan. Taijul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Saifuddin and Mosaddek claimed one wicket each for Bangladesh. Zimbabwe will face Afghanistan in their next match of the tournament at the same venue on Saturday.