Brendon Taylor and Blessing Mahwire go ecstatic in celebration as a dejected Mashrafe Mortaza walks back © Getty Images
Brendon Taylor and Blessing Mahwire go ecstatic in celebration as a dejected Mashrafe Mortaza walks back © Getty Images

August 2, 2005. Set to chase 237 at Harare Sports Club, Zimbabwe were as good as out of the contest at 220 for 7. Then Brendan Taylor took over. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at one of the greatest heists pulled off in the history of One-Day Internationals (ODIs).

Zimbabwe had an uprising around the turn of the millennium, but the Robert Mugabe regime reduced them to a shadow of their former self. Bangladesh, despite pulling off an upset every now and then, were usually considered pushovers. The two nations were not considered in the same league as the other eight Test teams in 2006. ALSO READ: Allan Lamb scores 18 runs off last over to register miraculous win against Australia

Yet, matches involving them often ended in spectacular fashion. Consider the 2006 series, for example, where Zimbabwe were reduced to 50 for 4 in the first match chasing 247 before Stuart Matsikenyeri and Elton Chigumbura guided them to victory. Bangladesh hit back in the second match, scoring 238 and bowling out the hosts for 176.

The third match, thus, was an eagerly anticipated contest. Prosper Utseya put Bangladesh in, and the openers were snared almost immediately by Tawanda Mupariwa and Blessing Mahwire. The tourists were reduced to 13 for 2 after 3 overs.

Aftab Ahmed then decided to counterattack, muscling his way to a 39-ball 53 out of a 70-run stand. Mohammad Ashraful scored a quickfire 46, and Rajin Saleh compiled a resilient 46. A few quick wickets meant Bangladesh lost their track somewhat, and though Abdur Razzak put up some late resistance, they were bowled out for 236 with an over to spare. Anthony Ireland and Hamilton Masakadza snared three scalps apiece.

Steady start

It was a tricky chase, but Vusimuzi Sibanda and Terrence Duffin went at it cautiously, adding 30 before Sibanda tried to sweep Razzak and was trapped LBW. Masakadza made a quick 38, and when Duffin’s resistance ended (to Saleh, of all people), Zimbabwe were 121 for 3. They needed 116 from 114 balls with Brendan Taylor at the crease.

It was not a steep target, but Zimbabwe did not have the strongest of batting line-ups. A hundred runs at a run-a-ball rate was not as easy in 2006 as it is in 2015.

The success of Saleh had prompted Khaled Mashud to give him another go. Matsikenyeri tried to flick him, but could only get a leading edge to Ashraful at extra-cover. Zimbabwe were now 131 for 4, with 106 needed from 102.

Shahadat Hossain became the first Bangladeshi to take an ODI hat-trick © Getty Images
Shahadat Hossain became the first Bangladeshi to take an ODI hat-trick © Getty Images

The Shahadat show

Shahadat came back. Taylor eased some pressure, stepping out and lofting Mohammad Rafique over his head for four. Unfortunately, debutant Tafadzwa Mufambisi never got going. He poked at a wide one from Shahadat, and Mashud took an easy catch. Elton Chigumbura faced a toe-crusher next ball, and was given LBW.

No Bangladeshi had taken a ODI hat-trick for Bangladesh till then. Most captains would have gone for a slip or two, but Mashud’s priority was the match in hand. He could not afford to give away boundaries.

Shahadat, the fastest Bangladeshi bowler of the era, tore in. Could he be the first Bangladeshi to the landmark?

Unfortunately, it was not the ideal ball to send down when on a hat-trick. Shahadat was not even on target. Perhaps out of instinct more than anything else, Utseya had a go at it. Mashud claimed the catch, and history was written: Shahadat had become the first Bangladeshi to take an ODI hat-trick.

The fielders mobbed Shahadat. The support staff, led by Dav Whatmore, were among the few who cheered the hat-trick on a ground that was empty anyway.

Zimbabwe needed 86 from 65. They had 3 wickets in hand. Surely they could not win this?

Mupariwa lends a hand

Razzak supported with a tight over. Tawanda Mupariwa slogged Mashrafe Mortaza for four; Taylor dismissed Rafique over extra-cover for another four; the target came down to 62 from 42. Bangladesh were still favourites, but to be sure they needed a wicket, specially Taylor’s.

Refusing to give up, Taylor took a calculated risk and hit against the turn off Rafique. But the Bangladeshis gnawed back, and the gap kept increasing. Zimbabwe needed 48 from 24.

Shahadat came back. Mupariwa went after the third ball, a full-toss: the ball went straight to Rafique at deep square-leg, who grassed the chance — and let the ball roll to the fence. Three balls later Taylor pulled one viciously for four. It was now 33 from 18.

Razzak conceded a mere 5 from the next over. Mupariwa managed a pulled four off the next over from Shahadat, but an 11-run over meant that Zimbabwe needed 17 off the final over. Nobody had scored as many runs to win a match since Allan Lamb (off Bruce Reid at SCG in 1986-87). To make things worse for Zimbabwe, Taylor was off strike.

Taylor triumphs

17 from 6. Mortaza’s first ball was straight and full; Mupariwa, his locks peeping out of the moss-green helmet, hit it straight, could not find the boundary, but he could give the strike back to Taylor.

16 from 5. Mortaza walked back to his mark. Unfortunately, he let loose a full-toss, and Taylor gave it an almighty thwack. The ball soared over the square-leg fence, and the subdued Zimbabwe fans suddenly found their voices back.

10 from 4. Mortaza’s next ball was pitched up, and all Taylor could do was to play it to Rafique at mid-wicket. There was no chance of a run.

10 from 3. Mortaza bowled outside off. Most men would have gone for it instinctively, but Taylor, ice-cool Taylor, judged the line and let it go: it was called a wide.

9 from 3. Mashud sensed something was wrong. He walked up to Mortaza. There was a brief two-way conference before the captain jogged back to his position behind the stumps. The next ball was pitched up, and Taylor hit it so hard that his right hand came off the bat. The ball reached the square-leg fence.

5 from 2. Taylor went after Mortaza again, but once again ended up hitting it to Rafique. Meanwhile, Mupariwa had set off for a maniacal dash. Taylor was not interested, and Mupariwa, in an effort to turn back, slipped, and was run out by a mile.

Mupariwa limped back with an injured ankle. He crossed Mahwire (in a helmet, for some reason) on his way out. Zimbabwe had lost another wicket, but it did not matter, for Taylor was on strike.

5 from 1. Unfortunately, Mortaza ended up doing a Chetan Sharma, sending down a full-toss. Taylor reciprocated by pulling off a Javed Miandad, smashing the ball over his favourite mid-wicket zone.

Mahwire ran in to congratulate Taylor, followed by the jubilant men in red. Taylor was engulfed in a deluge of teammates, and rightly so, for he had created history by taking 18 off the last over of an ODI to seal a victory out of nowhere.

What followed?

– The defeat cost Bangladesh dearly, for they lost the series in the next match. After they managed a mere 206 for 9, Zimbabwe strolled to an easy victory. Bangladesh had their revenge in the last ODI, bowling out Zimbabwe for 189 (Saleh stunned once again with 4 for 19) before a Shahriar Nafees hundred guided them to a win.
– Since Shahadat, three other Bangladeshis have taken ODI hat-tricks, all of them at Mirpur: Razzak (against Zimbabwe, 2010-11); Rubel Hossain (against New Zealand, 2013-14); and Taijul Islam (against Zimbabwe, 2014-15).

Brief scores:

Bangladesh 236 in 49 overs (Rajin Saleh 54, Aftab Ahmed 53, Mohammad Ashraful 46; Anthony Ireland 3 for 41, Hamilton Masakadza 3 for 39) lost to Zimbabwe 238 for 8 in 50 overs (Terrence Duffin 48, Brendan Taylor 79*; Shahadat Hossain 3 for 52) by 2 wickets with no ball to spare.

Man of the Match: Brendan Taylor.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)