|Scorecard:||Zimbabwe v Bangladesh|
Lunch: Bangladesh (2) 112/8 (Mashud 16*). Result: Zimbabwe beat Bangladesh by 183 runs.
Zimbabwe wrapped up a 183-run victory over Bangladesh 50 minutes after lunch on the final day. It was perhaps a flattering margin, as they did not impose themselves on the match apart from the fourth afternoon, and were rather laborious in wrapping it up on the final day. Zimbabwe’s young stallion Sean Ervine was voted Man of the Match.
Normal service seemed to be resumed for Zimbabwe on the fifth morning after their dynamic performances of the last three hours of the fourth day. There was one hour of mediocrity which allowed Rajin Saleh and Manjarul Islam Rana some less than intensive batting practice, as if the home side had turned up expecting them to roll over and surrender. Neither Heath Streak nor Andy Blignaut bowled, both being on the field but carrying minor injuries.
The overnight pair began cautiously, but soon Saleh began to bat more freely, playing strokes all round the wicket and showing considerable talent. It was not until just after the drinks break that Zimbabwe finally broke through, and the wicket given to them; perhaps Saleh suffered from sudden nerves, but for the second time in the match he narrowly missed his fifty. He had 47 to his credit when he suddenly leapt down the pitch to swing at Raymond Price and was smartly stumped by Tatenda Taibu. Bangladesh were 81 for six.
Manjural Islam Rana (31) had a profitable Test debut with the bat and his current average is now 66. He took Bangladesh past 100, but then fell straight into Price’s leg trap, sweeping at a ball, getting a top edge and lobbing the easiest of catches straight to Trevor Gripper, who had been placed halfway to the boundary for that exact purpose. Bangladesh were 110 for seven.
Things were to get worse in the final over before lunch as Zimbabwe engaged in what appeared to be a frivolous appeal for either lbw or a bat-pad catch from Tabash Baishya (2) off Price, and were perhaps as surprised as the batsmen when umpire Orchard put his finger up; the bowler’s face showed a mixture of pleasure, surprise and perhaps a tinge of guilt. It was assumed that he had been given out caught by Gavin Ewing at silly point, but the scorers said the official decision was lbw. Once again the umpiring decisions were going against the struggling team, and the tourists went in to lunch on 112 for eight.
After lunch it was clear the batsmen were not going to hang around. There was a bright and brief ninth-wicket partnership before Mohammad Rafique (5) hit a hard return catch to Ewing, whose first Test wicket it was. Khaled Mashud continued the policy of going down with all guns blazing, racing to his fifty off 76 balls after a slow start. It was more than 50 minutes after lunch before Zimbabwe finally wrapped up the match, as Mashud grew too impatient and leapt down the pitch to Price, giving Taibu his second stumping of the innings.
Zimbabwe go to Bulawayo for the Second and final Test at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo, beginning on Thursday, in fine spirits, but they have injury worries in Streak and Blignaut in particular, and would do well to avoid complacency even if all are fit. It they could reproduce their golden three hours on the fourth day, they would no longer be regarded as a basement team – but the answer is all in that little space between the ears.
(Article: Copyright © 2004 John Ward)
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