Bangladesh returned to the ODI stage after almost seven months and they had a sweet return. The Tigers thumped Zimbabwe by 169 runs to go 1-0 up in the three-match series at Sylhet.
This marked Bangladesh's biggest margin of victory by runs as their previous record was by 163 runs against Sri Lanka in 2018.
The heroes of the match for Bangladesh were Liton Das and Mohammad Saifuddin as Liton picked up his second ODI century and Saifuddin shined with both bat and ball. Saifuddin, who was out with a back injury since the World Cup and made his return with this match, hit a 15-ball cameo of 28 runs to help Bangladesh reach a mammoth 321-6 in their innings. And when it came to bowling, Saifuddin picked up three wickets and the other Bangladeshi bowlers put on the leash on the visitors as they crumbled for 152 to hand Bangladesh a huge win.
A win against Zimbabwe is not a groundbreaking feat for the side anymore but during such a turbulent time for the team, even a win against Zimbabwe is a sigh of relief. And with the match won with utter dominance, it counts a tad more than just a win against Zimbabwe.
Bangladesh showed their dominance right from the moment their skipper Mashrafe Mortaza, who returned to international cricket for the first time since the World Cup in England, won the toss and elected to bat first.
Their emblem of dominance was Liton, who displayed his wide array of shots to put the Zimbabwean bowlers to the sword. He put up stands with Tamim Iqbal, Nazmul Hossain Shanto and Mushfiqur Rahim. None of the others could convert their starts as Shanto might consider himself unlucky. Shanto was on 29 when he was given out LBW but replays suggested that the ball was surely going to miss the stumps. Tamim had used up the review earlier on and Shanto had to go back.
But Liton went on to pick up his second ODI ton off just 95 deliveries as he flicked Donald Tiripano off his legs to reach three figures. In the process, Liton became the first opener for Bangladesh to score a hundred in ODIs since Imrul Kayes did against the same opponents in 2018.
Liton looked on course to make it big as he started to accelerate after reaching three figures. But he was cut short because of cramp as he had to go back on 126 being retired hurt. His innings consisted of 13 fours and two sixes and put Bangladesh in the driving seat.
From there on, a fifty from Mohammad Mithun and a 15-ball 28-run cameo from Saifuddin ensured that Bangladesh put up a humongous total of 321-6.
And right from the beginning of their innings, Zimbabwe crumbled under the tight bowling from Bangladeshi bowlers. They had lost three wickets by the end of the first powerplay and never got any partnership going to help their cause.
The only meaningful contribution in their innings came from Wesley Madhevere and Tinotenda Mutombodzi, who scored 35 and 24 respectively. And the other batsmen? They were left gasping for air on the pitch.
All of the bowlers except Mahmudullah Riyad managed to make it to the wickets column and Zimbabwe were bundled out for 152.
Saifuddin picked up three wickets whereas Mashrafe also had a good comeback match as he picked up two. Mehidy Hasan also picked up a couple with Taijul Islam and Mustafizur Rahman picking one each.