First Test Match, at Harare Sports Club, Day 4
Close of play: Zimbabwe (389 and 227/7 dec) beat Bangladesh (134 and 147) by 335 runs.
Zimbabwe completed a superb victory over Bangladesh at Harare Sports Club, in the final session of the fourth day, by 335 runs. They set the tourist a virtually impossible target of 483 and bowled them out for 147 before an enthusiastic crowd of several hundred spectators.
Zimbabwe’s number one hero is their captain, Brendan Taylor, who became the third Zimbabwean, after the Flower brothers, to score two centuries in the same Test match, all on this Harare Sports Club ground. The rest of the top seven in the batting order scored 163 runs between them in the match, less than Taylor’s first innings of 171. That is the main matter of concern for Zimbabwe, as Taylor cannot be expected to carry the batting every time.
The bowling, led by Kyle Jarvis, was more consistent, although they did temporarily lose their hold at times. Each bowler played his part well and, on the whole, the fielding was superb, a reminder of Zimbabwe’s great fielding days in the past. Zimbabwe were underdogs before this match, after their disasters in West Indies and Bangladesh’s good showing against Sri Lanka, and they deserve great credit for pulling themselves up and winning so decisively.
Zimbabwe began the day on 187 for seven wickets, a lead of 442, which is more than any team has yet made to win a Test match. They batted on for 37 more minutes, to enable Taylor, on 82, to reach his second century. Taylor decided to impose himself on the renowned Robiul Islam from the start, driving him for four and six in the third over of the day; Meth also hit a boundary, 16 came off the over and Islam came off.
Taylor became very cautious when he reached 96, but finally steered a ball backward of point for three to reach 102; it came off 146 balls and contained five fours and two sixes. At the end of the over he declared on 227 for seven wickets. Keegan Meth, his partner, was unbeaten with 31 and the unbroken partnership had added 64 for the eighth wicket. Robiul Islam finished with the admirable figures of six for 71, having bowled 19 overs out of 64.
With rain highly unlikely and 170 overs left in the match, Bangladesh needed a near miracle; the only realistic policy for them to follow was to play their natural attacking game and go down fighting. Zimbabwe could afford to be aggressive, with so many runs in hand, and Kyle Jarvis came in for his first over with four slips and a gully. Both he and especially Meth found some swing that had the batsmen groping. The Zimbabwe fielders were in fine form and made some excellent saves.
Shahriar Nafees began to open up, hitting two successive fours off Jarvis, but the bowler produced a superb inswinging delivery for the next ball to uproot the off stump; 21 for one, with last man 11. Just before lunch Jahurul Islam fell for 22, given out caught at the wicket off Shingi Masakadza. The batsmen made his disagreement clear, and it may well have flicked his shirt instead of the bat. Bangladesh were 42 for two at the interval.
For a while, Zimbabwe had to be patient for their wickets. Mahmadullah made 21 before pulling a catch to square leg off Jarvis, but Shakib Al Hasan (4) again failed, caught in the gully again off a lifting ball, from the same bowler. Then Elton Chigumbura came on, Jarvis needing a break, and with his fourth ball removed Mushfiqur Rahim for 3, brilliantly caught by Taylor diving far to his right at second slip. The score was now suddenly 85 for five.
Mohammad Ashraful was still there, batting with a responsibility that he has not shown often enough for Bangladesh. Nasir Hossain was with him, and they held up Zimbabwe with a partnership of 47 at four an over. Jarvis returned and Graeme Cremer came on for his first proper bowl of the match. The stand ended in an unfortunate way, as Ashraful, on 40, thought a spinner from Cremer had beaten the keeper and the diving Taylor at slip, started off on a run and found himself stranded as Taylor returned the ball swiftly.
Tea soon followed, at 136 for six. In the second over afterwards, Hossain had a wild swing at a low full toss from Cremer and was bowled for 23. As in the first innings, the tail caved in quite easily and the final total was 147. Cremer this time was the man to profit, and after his personal agony in West Indies he would be delighted to finish with four wickets for four runs, although he bowled less than seven overs in the match.
There were scenes of jubilation from the players and the crowd as the last wicket fell, Jarvis at deep square leg taking a superb diving catch to dismiss the last man Robiul Islam off Cremer. It was a wonderful effort overall and a remarkable margin of 335 runs; now they will soon need to prepare themselves to repeat the effort on this ground again next week. This must be the start of a new era for Zimbabwe cricket.