Zimbabwe goes down to Bangladesh while Sri Lanka A falls well short of Afghanistan's standards
Bangladesh and Afghanistan put up solid performances against Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka A respectively in the second day of warm-up matches ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 in Colombo.
Coming off a demoralising loss to Ireland in their opening warm-up fixture, Zimbabwe put up a better show against Bangladesh, but it wasn’t enough to give it a much-needed win.
Put in to bat, Zimbabwe was tied down by Shakib al Hassan and Abdur Razzak, who returned combined figures of 3 for 37 from 8 parsimonious overs, with Shakib taking one wicket and Razzak two. Zimbabwe’s top-order was steered by Vusi Sibanda, but though Sibanda made 40, he took up 47 balls while doing so, and the innings didn’t get the momentum it required.
It was only some late hitting by Craig Ervine, who smashed two sixes and a four in seven balls, that enabled Zimbabwe to post a reasonable 134 for 6. Elton Chigumbura also contributed with a six towards the closing overs, but most of the other batsmen found the Bangladesh bowlers tough to get away.
Bangladesh began their reply in style, with Shakib putting on a half-century stand with Mohammad Ashraful for the second wicket. Ashraful, who had been sent in as an opener, shrugged off the early loss of Tamim Iqbal to make 38 off 25 balls, while Shakib contributed 28 off 17.
Both fell when set, inducing a few wobbles in the Bangladesh camp as it slid from 63 for 1 to 85 for 5 in the space of 22 balls. Graeme Cremer, the legspinner, was particularly effective for Zimbabwe. He accounted for Ashraful and returned 2 for 10 in four overs.
However, a good half-century stand between Mahmudullah and Ziaur Rahman saw Bangladesh through by five wickets with 10 balls to spare. Ziaur ended unbeaten on 26 off 20.
In the other match, Afghanistan gave a very strong account of itself, scoring 209 for 7 in their 20 overs, after being put into bat. Mohammad Shahzad, the opening batsman, scored a 25-ball 48 with three sixes and six boundaries to give the team a solid start, while Asghar Stanikzai (50 from 39 balls) and Mohammad Nabi (51 from 24 balls) provided the impetus in the middle and end overs.
Considering that the Sri Lanka A bowling attack had prominent players like Nuwan Pradeep, the medium pacer, as well as Sachithra Senanayeke, Kaushal Lokuarachchi and Jehan Mubarak, the spinners, it was a commendable performance.
The reply by Sri Lanka A was positive, but the weight of 209 runs was a bit too much for them. Kosala Kulasekara scored a 38-ball 63, but with all the five Afghan bowlers on view – Shapoor Zadran, Dawlat Zadran, Nabi, Samiullah Shenwari and Nasim Baras – among the wickets, Afghanistan were always on top. Dawlat was the best of the lot, returning figures of 3 for 22.
Sri Lanka A were eventually bowled out for 158 in 18.2 overs, giving the Afghans a 51-run win.