WINNERS! – The Chevrons Tame the Tigers with a 2-1 ODI Series Victory as Raza, Kaia, and Chakabva Shine With the Bat

By Ashley Dube & Takudzwa Hillary Chiwanza

Zimbabwe beat Bangladesh for the first time in nine years in a One Day International (ODI) bilateral series as they took the three match series two matches to one; one may hazard to christen this historic win a ‘sweet, deserved victory’.

Sikandar Raza and Regis Chakabva celebrating their centuries in the 2nd ODI in Harare. Pic/ZimCricket.
Sikandar Raza and Regis Chakabva celebrating their centuries in the 2nd ODI in Harare.  Pic/Zim Cricket on Twitter. 

The Chevrons cruised to two relative tough  chases as they won the first two ODI matches by 5 wickets respectively.

The Zimbabwe men’s national cricket team – enjoying a resurgence of exciting cricket – were denied a whitewash in the third ODI as their batting order capitulated swiftly; they were bowled out for 151, losing the match losing by 105 runs.

Sikandar Raza’s rich vein of form continued as he scored back-to-back unbeaten hundreds (1st and 2nd ODIs) as he led the Chevrons to two of their highest successful run-chases.

He got ample assistance from Innocent Kaia in the first ODI in a 192 run stand for the fourth wicket. Kaia scored his maiden international hundred in the process before he holed out on 110.

In the first match, Zimbabwe “pulled off a wonderful five-wicket victory” as they chased down a gigantic score of 303 (for the loss of two wickets) posted by Bangladesh – Litton Das top-scored with 81 for the visitors. Zimbabwe’s response was a spirited, composed, and confident one as Raza scored an unbeaten 135, and Kaia 110, surpassing the target (307 runs for the loss of five wickets) in 48.2 overs.

In the second match, stand-in captain Regis Chakabva stepped up with a maiden century of his own scoring 102. His century was a bold statement of intent regarding his batting capabilities, which of late some sections of cricket fans and critics had come to doubt (he scored 2 runs in the first match).

Speaking to the press, Chakabva had said that he never felt as if he had been out of form – with Zimbabwe’s batting coach Lance Klusener saying that Regis Chakabva is a talented batsman with loads of potential.

And in the 2nd ODI, he gave the Bangladeshi bowlers a torrid time as he marched on his way to his debut century; which also made history – Chakabva’s hundred came in 73 balls, which was the fastest by a Zimbabwean batsman in One Day Internationals (two sixes and ten fours).

In the second ODI, with an electric atmosphere at Harare Sports Club as fans rallied  behind the Chevrons, both Chakabva and Raza (117 not out) scored centuries, putting up a combined 201 run stand (as Zimbabwe chased 290), the highest for the fifth wicket for Zimbabwe.

The solidly magnificent partnership between Sikandar and Chakabva was an attestation of the positive turn in mentality that Zimbabwe’s cricket team has exuded in the T20 and ODI series versus Bangladesh. It was a splendid cricket performance – a “stunning run chase” as they clinched the series.

After Chakabva capitulated to a Hasan Miraz delivery for a mammoth 102 as he aimed for a big hit that was caught by Tamim Iqbal at midwicket, Tony Munyonga stepped in to steady the ship and help lead the Chevrons towards a victory that lurked on the horizon; only 41 runs were left to win. Raza knew he had to finish the team’s innings and lead the Chevrons to victory.

It was Munyonga’s debut ODI for Zimbabwe, “a man of good temperament and technique” but without the experience of batting at such a huge national and global stage.

And although a bit of nerves and “outrageous luck” were palpable for the batsman (he was dropped twice by Bangladeshi fielders), he ultimately mustered his composure and together with Raza led Zimbabwe to a five wicket victory with 15 balls remaining in the 2nd ODI. Munyonga scored 30 not out off 16 balls (with two sixes and two fours).

In the 2nd ODI Raza made figures of 3-56. And Wessly Madhevere made 2-40.

By winning the first two matches, Zimbabwe had won the three-match ODI series.

Raza has been different class from the qualifiers, scoring 607 runs across the T20 and ODI formats at an outstanding average of 101.16; and in this he registered two centuries and four fifties coupled with twelve wickets, with best figures of 4-8 against the Netherlands in the final of the T20 Qualifier in Bulawayo.

He was named man for the series for the third time in consecutive series. In addition, he has surged to fourth in the ODI rankings for all-rounders, which is in turn a career best.

Bangladesh’s tour to Zimbabwe has shown the cricketing world a buoyant and resilient Sikandar Raza who is enjoying the finest form of his expansive and illustrious cricket career.

Raza’s current impressive form clearly makes him the man-of-the-moment in ICC’s realm of professional cricket; and he has been a delight to Zimbabwe cricket’s fans.

A huge concern coming into the series was the strength of the bowling department following injuries to Blessing Muzarabani and Tendai Chatara.

The pace bowling of quintet of Lance Chivanga, Richard Ngarava, Victor Nyauchi, Luke Jongwe and Brad Evans allayed those fears as they all bowled brilliantly during the ODI series against Bangladesh. Luke Jongwe has vindicated his position in the team – he made 2/38 in the final ODI.

For Nyauchi and Evans, they were making their debuts in the One Day format. Improvements were hugely noted especially in the death overs, as the bowlers continue to work on their variations. Brad Evans registered figures of 2/53 in the final ODI.

The death overs were littered with slower balls, yorkers and wide yorkers as the Bangladeshi batsmen struggled to accelerate. On the overall, the bowling and batting departments showed exciting displays of cricketing brilliance.

Notwithstanding this, the Chevrons’ batting top order struggled throughout the series, failing to lay concrete foundations as they had to often to rely on Sikandar Raza’s rescuing acts.

In the first match, Musakanda and Chakabva departed early with only six runs on the board.

Takudzwanashe Kaitano came in for Musakanda and went out without troubling the scorers in both of his innings.

It came with little surprise when Raza was beaten first up by a cracking, superb delivery by Edabot Hossain in the final ODI – and the relatively modest chase of 256 became a tall order, with tail enders Richard Ngarava (34 not out),  Victor Nyauchi (26), and Clive Madande (24) ending up as the team’s top scorers.

The import of this is that the opening slot is very much up for grabs at the moment, and the rumour-mill is linking Yorkshire batsman Gary Ballance with a sensational return to Zimbabwe cricket.

Ed Byrom and pacer Dustin Melton are also reportedly interested with a return as well.

Zimbabwe were also rocked with a number of injuries over the course of the series, with up to eight players forced to sit out.

Outstanding skipper for the series Regis Chakabva became the latest one to sit out (Chakabva did not play in the 3rd ODI – captaincy was passed to Sikandar Raza while Clive Madande was the wicket-keeper).

Hopefully, for the Chevrons, these players will be all back fit for the upcoming series against India, which commences on the 18th of August 2022, and is part of the World Super League series which has a direct impact on qualification prospects to the next 50-Over Cricket World Cup.

It can safely be concluded that Zimbabwe’s cricket has been thoroughly exciting of late and portends good fortunes and memories in the near and far future.

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