Second Test Match, at Harare Sports Club, Day 5
Result: Bangladesh (391 and 291/9 dec) beat Zimbabwe (282 and 257) by 143 runs.
Congratulations to Bangladesh, who gained what can perhaps be called their first genuine Test match victory at Harare Sports Club today. They have three previous Test wins in the record books but these were against West Indies (twice) and Zimbabwe when these teams had lost most of their top cricketers during player rebellions. Although there was still a tendency for their batsmen to throw their wickets away, they recovered and learned very well from their heavy defeat in the First Test and have now shared the series.
For Zimbabwe, at least there was some consolation that they did not collapse as Bangladesh did a week ago, but this was largely due to Hamilton Masakadza, who returned to form with a fine innings. Only his brother Shingi gave him much support, and several of the Zimbabwe batsmen gave their wickets away weakly. But Hamilton stood firm to the end, hitting 110 not out off 252 balls, with eleven fours and four sixes, enabling Zimbabwe to lose with at least some honour.
Zimbabwe began the day on 138 for four, with the Masakadza brothers at the crease, chasing their target of 401. For the first hour they batted very well together, showing sound defence but scoring sensibly off the loose deliveries. The pitch was giving little help to the bowlers and Robiul Islam caused few problems, perhaps the result of being bowled into the ground in the three previous Zimbabwe innings in this series. Hamilton reached his fifty off 129 balls, his first Test fifty since his century in Zimbabwe’s comeback Test against the same opponents almost two years ago.
After drinks, however, things began to go wrong. Mohammad Ashraful came on to bowl, and Shingi, perhaps relaxing fatally against a part-time bowler, missed a sweep at a straight ball and was trapped lbw for 24. It was a disappointing end to a fine innings lasting two hours and 89 balls. Elton Chigumbura came in and gave his wicket away without a fight, popping a simple catch to midwicket for only 2, a very soft dismissal, and reducing Zimbabwe to 169 for six.
Richie Mutumbami was next in, after a record of fine fighting innings for Southern Rocks this season, and he hung in well until lunch, which came at 194 for six off 75 overs, Hamilton on 73. Afterwards Mutumbami played a superb straight drive off Zaiur Rahman for four to bring up the 200, but then spoilt it by swinging at the very next ball, outside the off stump, and dragging it on to his wicket; out for 12.
Graeme Cremer (3) did not throw his wicket away, but was beaten by a good ball from Zaiur and edged it to slip. Keegan Meth (4) got too far across his stumps and was trapped lbw trying to hit a straight ball to leg. With the last man Kyle Jarvis at the crease Hamilton went on the attack, driving a ball from Zaiur for a big straight six and doing his best to shield Jarvis as the fielding side played the usual farcical games by spreading the field to keep him away from the bowling rather than get him out.
Despite this, Hamilton reached his third Test century – one in a draw, one in a victory and this one in a defeat – with another huge six, over midwicket. Jarvis did not seem unduly trouble by the bowling and had a few strokes of his own to play. Finally, though, he played inside an arm ball from Shakib Al Hasan and was out lbw for 7; Zimbabwe all out 257. Hamilton Masakadza marched from the field unbeaten, a fine innings after so many disappointments. Robiul this time took only one wicket for 53 from 20 overs, but Zaiur took four for 63 and Shakib three for 52, enabling Bangladesh to win with little contribution this time from their star bowler.