In three spells that tested the skill of the Zimbabwe batsmen and drew plenty of oohs and aahs from the crowd at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, Mustafizur Rahman claimed figures of 5 for 34 to ensure Bangladesh's 3-0 sweep of the ODI series. He is the first bowler in history to have as many as three five-wicket hauls in under 10 matches played.
Mustafizur conceded boundaries from time to time but Zimbabwe's batsmen could not dominate him. There were many plays and misses, and edges that almost carried to the slips. There were several occasions when the ball missed the stumps by a whisker as he got the ball to swing and cut. When he ran in to bowl with Zimbabwe nine-down, Mashrafe Mortaza gave him eight slips.
Mustafizur's first two strikes upset the boundary-filled start that Zimbabwe made in the first seven overs. Off the second ball of the chase, Chamu Chibhabha had little clue as Mustafizur got the ball to swing enough to get past his driving arms. Craig Ervine and Regis Chakabva kept finding fours but in the seventh over again, Mustafizur removed Chakabva with a slower delivery that the opening batsmen could only lob to cover.
Ervine fell to Nasir Hossain in the ninth over when he played back to a delivery that didn't get up as much as he anticipated and he was trapped lbw for 21 off 25 balls.
Zimbabwe captain Elton Chigumbura then joined Sean Williams in an attempt to resurrect the innings and get a measure of the required run-rate. Williams was given a lifeline when the substitute fielder Anamul Haque dropped him at mid-off on 23. The two batsmen found boundaries, too, and Mashrafe started to look for his sixth bowler. Sabbir Rahman bowled an excellent delivery to get rid of Chigumbura in the 23rd over after he had added 80 runs for the fourth wicket with Williams. Chigumbura made 45 with six boundaries and was removed before he could open up in a big way.
Zimbabwe could have ended this ODI series without a single fifty from their batsmen had Arafat Sunny not trodden on the stumps in the 30th over when Williams - batting on 49 - was short of the crease.
For the next six overs, Bangladesh had to contend with a dangerous partnership between Malcolm Waller and Williams but Nasir intervened, taking a head-high catch in the covers to dismiss Waller. Next over, Williams fell to an easy catch at cover after he failed to time a drive off Mashrafe. He made 64 off 84 balls with five fours.
Mustafizur came back to remove Sikandar Raza, who was caught splendidly by Sabbir as he ran from mid-on to mid-off. Next ball, Luke Jongwe holed out at midwicket, but his hat-trick ball was kept away by Graeme Cremer. Later, Mustafizur took a return catch to dismiss Tinashe Panyangara and complete a third five-wicket haul in ODIs, figures that complemented the work of Bangladesh's opening batsmen.
Earlier, Bangladesh's innings was split into two parts after they opted to bat. The first part comprised the 147-run opening stand between Imrul Kayes and Tamim Iqbal. It was enough of a base to get close to 300 runs but it wasn't to be, and the second part saw them restricted to 276 for 9.
Tamim started the early rush of boundaries with a pull off Panyangara; it was his only four through the leg side as the remaining six fours were played through the covers. Tamim's only six came off a blast over the bowler's head. But by then Kayes had struck four sixes - three between midwicket and square-leg and, the best of the lot, one over extra cover. He also struck six fours, three on either side of the wicket.
Kayes was dropped on 35 and survived a stumping and caught-behind off the same delivery on 48 after Chakabva missed a stumping and replays showed there was an edge. Both Tamim and Kayes fell for 73 in the space of five overs, but Bangladesh still had their eyes on a bigger total with Mushfiqur Rahim in the middle after the fall of the first wicket.
Mushfiqur, too, fell before they reached 200, which meant much of the work depended on Liton Das and Mahmudullah, two batsmen who had struggled to get going in the first two matches. Liton gave a catch one to cover after making 17 while Nasir Hossain and Sabbir Rahman fell to Luke Jongwe in the space of three deliveries, Cremer holding on to easy catches at point.
Bangladesh slipped from 222 for 3 to 226 for 6 within 11 deliveries and were in danger of getting bowled out before 50 overs. Mahmudullah, who was on 32, then got mixed up with Mashrafe in the 45th over only for wicketkeeper Chakabva to knock down the bails seconds before Sikandar Raza's direct hit found Mahmudullah short of the crease.
Mahmudullah stood near the dressing-room while TV umpire Enamul Haque saw many replays and finally decided it was not-out. Chigumbura, however, protested the decision and the broadcasters then showed a replay in which Chakabva had uprooted the stump but did so after Aleem Dar had initially given out to the direct throw.
With the second decision also not out, Zimbabwe gathered into a huddle for a few minutes but both captains shook hands and the game resumed.
Mahmudullah added another 20 runs, and was run-out in the last over as Bangladesh scampered towards their highest score in the three-match series.
Jongwe and Cremer took two wickets each while Panyangara, Raza and Waller took one each. Among them, Panyangara bowled the best spells.