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Naeem powers Bangladesh to thrilling victory

cricket Updated: Nov 06, 2009 01:08 IST
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All-rounder Naeem Islam hit a superb 73 not out off 90 balls to power Bangladesh to a thrilling one-wicket victory over Zimbabwe in the fifth and final one-dayer in Chittagong on Thursday.

The 22-year-old kept his cool and added 35 runs along with last man Nazmul Hossain to snatch victory from Zimbabwe, with the hosts finishing the series comfortable 4-1 winners.

Brendan Taylor hit a brilliant 118 not out -- his maiden ton -- off 125 balls to propel the visitors to 221 for nine wickets, with Man-of-the-Series Abdur Razzak sharing the wickets with Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah.

Zimbabwe were smelling a pride-restoring victory when they reduced the hosts to 187 for nine, with all Bangladesh's big names returning to the pavilion thanks to three run-outs and some tight bowling.

Then Naeem stepped up, hitting three consecutive sixes off Chamu Chibhabha in a sensational 48th over, capitalising on a power-play, and then scoring five runs in the 49th over to seal victory in front of 20,000 spectators at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium.

"Right to the end I never thought we would lose," said Naeem, who was well supported earlier in his innings by Mahmudullah.

Earlier, Taylor returned to form for the tourists, hammering 118 off just 125 balls and holding his side's innings together when wickets tumbled at the other end against the rampaging Bangladeshi spinners.

Taylor hit seven fours and four sixes and took 19 runs in the last over to guide Zimbabwe to their best score in the series, which the visitors had already lost after being shot out for 44 in the previous match Tuesday.

The Bangladeshi slow bowlers again spun a web around the Zimbabwe batsmen, but Taylor first put on 62 with a promoted Elton Chigumbura and took the score past 200 single-handedly after they were reduced to 113 for seven.

Chigumbura, with a breezy 38, was the only other notable scorer in the Zimbabwe innings.

Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan said his top order and middle order failed again, but Naeem's heroics pulled them through for an unlikely victory.

"We thought the game was over but as far as Naeem is concerned he played a really good innings and with good confidence," he said.

Zimbabwe drew first blood in the series, posting a five-wicket victory in the first match on October 27.

But led by their spinners, Bangladesh bounced back in the next three matches to clinch the series with a match in hand.

Visiting captain Hamilton Masakadza said they lost the match in Naeem's explosive 48th over.

"I thought the guys fought hard, tried hard but that one over which went for 18 to 20 runs changed things," he said.