Sikandar Raza celebrates after scoring a century during the second ODI match at the Harare Sports Club on Sunday. AFP
The Pakistan-born batsman hit four sixes and eight fours off 127 deliveries and his 201-run fifth-wicket partnership with captain Regis Chakabva turned the tide after Bangladesh posted 290-9 in Harare.
Chakabva played a wonderful supporting role to Raza, who has been consistently outstanding for his adopted country, smashing 102 runs off 75 balls, including two sixes and 10 fours.
Zimbabwe reached 291-5 with 15 balls to spare after the early loss of wickets and a slow scoring rate suggested they had little chance of success at Harare Sports Club.
Sikandar Raza celebrates Zimbabwe's victory during the second ODI match. AFP
Zimbabwe also won the first ODI match on Friday by five wickets against opponents ranked eight places higher and continued a remarkable transformation under new coach Dave Houghton.
The former national team batting star took over in June with Zimbabwe in the doldrums after 3-0 ODI and Twenty20 whitewashes by visiting Afghanistan.
Houghton told his squad to express themselves, not be afraid of making mistakes and not to be intimidated by opponents, however strong they appeared on paper.
The triumph on Sunday was the ninth in 10 ODI and T20 matches under Houghton as Zimbabwe prepare for the T20 World Cup in Australia from October.
As on Friday, Zimbabwe won the toss and opted to field, and once again the Bangladesh batsmen did well, led by an unbeaten 80 from Mahmudullah Riyad and a 50 from captain Tamim Iqbal.
Sikandar Raza celebrates after scoring 100 runs. AP
Mahmudullah hit three sixes and three fours in a 126-minute stand while Iqbal needed just 45 balls to claim his half century, which included a six and 10 fours.
Afif Hossain (41) and Najmul Hossain (38) also made significant contributions against a Zimbabwe attack in which the spin of Raza proved most effective as he captured three wickets.
In reply, Zimbabwe lost their first wicket with just one run on the board and when they found themselves at 49-4, even supreme optimist Houghton could hardly have visualised what was about to occur.
Tanaka Chivanga is carried off the fields on a stretcher by medical staff after being injured during the 2nd ODI match. AFP
Raza and Chakabva — standing in as series skipper for injured Craig Ervine — took the fight to the Bangladeshi attack and slowly but surely lifted the total and raised hopes of an unlikely victory.
With 40 overs gone, Zimbabwe were 220-4 and needed 71 runs from 60 balls to win both the match and the series.
The loss of Chakabva, caught by Tamim at midwicket after miscuing a Mehidy Hasan delivery, did not stop the run surge and an unbeaten 30 from ODI debutant Tony Munyonga took Zimbabwe over the line.
The final match of the series marks Pakistan skipper Babar Azam's 100th ODI in a glorious career which began in 2015.
Despite that and defeat in the final match on Sunday, Azam was in buoyant mood. "Winning the series is great and so is achieving number one ranking that has set us in a good position for the World Cup," said the skipper.
Babar Azam's 107 off 117 balls propped up Pakistan's 334-6, and New Zealand stumbled to 232 all out, its lowest total of the series.
The 28-year-old crosses his milestone in just 97 innings, and breaks S.Africa Hashim Amla's record of 101 innings. Babar also becomes 14th Pakistani to score 5,000 runs in ODI cricket, with ex-captain Inzamam at the top of the list with 11,701 runs.
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