Zimbabwe's Sikandar Raza (R) watches the ball after playing a shot during the first one-day international (ODI) cricket match between Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. AFP/Jekesai Njikizana
HARARE - Sikandar Raza and Innocent Kaia struck centuries as Zimbabwe recovered from a disastrous start to stun Bangladesh by five wickets on Friday in the first match of a three one-day international series.
The home team lost openers Regis Chakabva and Tarisai Musakanda with just six runs on the scoreboard as they chased a formidable Bangladesh total of 303-2 that included four half centuries.
A third Zimbabwe wicket fell after they lifted the score to 62 and then Raza and Kaia came together to put on 192 runs for the fourth wicket and set up a brilliant victory as Zimbabwe reached 307-5 with 10 balls to spare.
Raza was unbeaten on 135, including six sixes and eight fours, while Kaia struck two sixes and 11 fours in his 110 before being caught by Shoriful Islam at short fine leg.
Bangladesh, seventh in the ODI rankings and eight places above Zimbabwe, took advantage of being put in to bat by building what appeared to be a winning score.
Opener Liton Das led the way with an unbeaten 81 before being forced to retire hurt with a suspected hamstring injury. He faced 89 balls and scored one six and nine fours.
Anamul Haque (73), captain Tamim Iqbal (62) and Mushfique Rahim (52) were the other scorers of half-centuries for a team fresh from a 3-0 ODI hammering of the West Indies.
But while the visiting batsmen scored freely, their bowlers had no answers to Pakistan-born Raza and Kaia at Harare Sports Club.
The pair reached centuries within two balls of each other during the 39th over with Kaia scoring his maiden ton through a single while two runs from Raza gave him his fourth 100 in the 50-over format.
Victory continued a remarkable transformation of Zimbabwe since former batting star Dave Houghton began a second stint as coach after 3-0 ODI and Twenty20 whitewashes by Afghanistan in June.
They hosted a T20 World Cup qualifying tournament last month and won all five matches to clinch a place at the main event in Australia from October.
Then, earlier this week, they edged Bangladesh by 10 runs in a thriller to snatch a 2-1 victory in a T20 series.