Zimbabwe's one-down batsman Charles Coventry salutes the crowd on reaching 150 in the fourth one-day against Bangladesh at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo yesterday. Coventry went on to hammer 194 not out to equal the world record for highest individual score with Pakistan's Saeed Anwar. Photo: AFP
Charles Coventry(194 not out) made the joint highest individual score in an ODI but his effort was outweighed by a sparkling, cool-headed century from Tamim Iqbal (154), who broke the record for the most runs made in an innings by a Bangladesh batsman, as the Tigers took a winning 3-1 lead in the five-match series against Zimbabwe at the Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo yesterday.
Coventry's blockbuster innings pushed Zimbabwe beyond 300, far more than Bangladesh have chased before, but the visitors were rarely troubled as they hunted down the target of 313 in 47.5 overs in the fourth match to take their third consecutive series.
Tamim continued his superb run of form and always kept Bangladesh in with a chance of overhauling the massive target.
Bangladesh needed a solid opening stand after Charles Coventry inspired Zimbabwe to 312, and Zunaed Siddiqui and Tamim provided them that. Both openers were particularly harsh on Elton Chigumbura, who pitched the ball too short right through his opening spell. Zunaed was the aggressor, hammering his way to a 27-ball 38 before, as has so often been the case, throwing away the start with a loose shot.
Bangladesh had motored to 65 off nine overs but Zunaed's dismissal, and the introduction of Zimbabwe's spinners, sucked the momentum out of the chase. Mohammad Ashraful took his time to settle, and Tamim cut out the big hits for a while, which made the asking-rate make a steady slide upwards.
After hobbling to a boundary-free 10-ball 28, Ashraful chipped a flighted delivery from Ray Price to the covers. Bangladesh would have been in deeper trouble had substitute Vusi Sibanda held on to a chance from Rokibul Hasan at short fine leg in Price's next over.
Zimbabwe were slowly taking control when Tamim decided to take on the spinners; Malcolm Waller was blasted over long-on and long-off off consecutive deliveries, followed by a powerful cut for four. He also come down the track and cracked Price over long-on to get his strike-rate above a 100. There still a long way to go for Bangladesh, but with their best batsman Shakib Al Hasan yet to come, 313 is definitely within their grasp.
Earlier, a blockbuster of an innings from Coventry raised Zimbabwe's chances of leveling the series. Coventry was involved in two substantial partnerships, with Hamilton Masakadza and Stuart Matsikenyeri, on either side of a middle-order collapse to power Zimbabwe to their second consecutive 300-plus total.
It was a superbly paced innings from Coventry; he provided the impetus after the early dismissal of Mark Vermeulen, then tempered his aggression when the wickets tumbled around him in the middle overs, before finishing off with an awesome display of power hitting. What made it even more astonishing was that the next highest score in the innings was 37, 157 less than Coventry. It was also his first ODI century, and he had never before crossed 106 in any form of senior cricket.
He stomped on the gas soon after reaching his century in the 38th over, particularly targeting the swathe from long-on to midwicket, where he slammed six of his seven sixes. Still, at the end of the 42nd over he was on 129, and the world record didn't seem in his sights. By the end of the 47th he was on 180, and all the interest was around whether he would make an ODI double-century, a feat not achieved in 2872 previous one-dayers.
He only managed three singles in the 48th, but a massive six over long-on took him to 191 with the final over still to come. A drive to cover on the first ball took him off strike, and he wasn't back facing the bowling until the last; Tawanda Mupariwa was dismissed off the second and Prosper Utseya facing the next three. Two runs were needed to equal Saeed Anwar's 12-year-old mark, and a tired punch straight past the bowler gave Coventry a share of the record. His final 91 had come off just 43 deliveries.
Bangladesh would have been facing a far smaller target had Syed Rasel held on to a simple catch at deep square leg when Coventry was only 13. With Coventry on 137 in the 44th over and the worst of the damage still to be done, Mahmudullah dropped a catch at square leg. Coventry celebrated by plundering 16 each off the next two overs, the crowds behind midwicket kept busy by the deliveries hammered by Coventry.
Bangladesh had won seven matches in a row ahead of their reverse in the third ODI. How they tackle this tall target will be an indicator of how whether they have actually progressed over the past few months.