There were centuries from Hamilton Masakadza and Brendan Taylor, good innings from several others, and fine bowling from a rejuvenated pace attack, with Brian Vitori and Kyle Jarvis coming to the fore just in time for this match. There was much good fielding, though not always quite up to the usual standard of near perfection often displayed by Zimbabwean teams. But everybody chipped in with something and, for the present, Zimbabwe cricket’s cup of joy is overflowing.
Bangladesh began the final day at 112 for three wickets, with another 263 needed for victory as they chased 375. They began at a gallop, with Mohammad Ashraful taking eight off the first over from Vitori, reminding everybody that there was still a chance that one of the mercurial Bangladeshi batsmen might play a ‘blinder’ and win the match for his team against the odds. The bowlers and field had to tighten up, but it took Zimbabwe 37 minutes to take their first wicket of the day. Vitori brought a ball back in to Ashraful, who played it on to his stumps off the inside edge. He made 39, and the score was 148 for four.
Taylor’s bowling changes were quite predictable: first bowl out Vitori and Jarvis, then bowl out Mpofu and Chigumbura, and finally bring on Price just before lunch. In this match they have just happened to work reasonably well. The next batsman to go was Mahmadullah, who made a rather anonymous 11 before he cut at a ball from Chris Mpofu outside the off stump and edged a catch to the keeper; 167 for five. This brought in the last card Bangladesh could play, their captain Shakib Al Hasan, indeed a formidable card.
Shakib on this occasion, though, disappointed his team supporters. He did not seem mentally attuned to the task and looked flashy throughout his innings – which lasted only five balls and included a boundary that skimmed over mid-on, who was just unable to reach it. He had 6 to his credit off five balls when he edged a low catch to second slip off Elton Chigumbura, and as he returned to the pavilion his team’s hopes went with him. 174 for six. Without addition his partner Mushfiqur Rahim chipped a catch to square leg off Mpofu and was out for 28.
Abdur Razzak decided to go down with all guns blazing. He hammered five fours in an over off Mpofu, and then when Raymond Price came on he slogged his first three balls for six. When he reached the other end he tried to do the same to Chigumbura, but the bowler sent him a full delivery that shattered his stumps. His 43 came off only 17 balls, with five fours and three sixes; Bangladesh were now 224 for eight with only the tail left. Four more runs were added before the players left the field for lunch.
After the break the ninth wicket fell immediately, as Jarvis clean bowled Shafiul Islam with the first delivery. Robiul Islam sensibly decided that blocking out the final four hours of the day was not a realistic option and hit out, with a straighter bat than Razzak had employed, and drove Jarvis for three fours in the remaining five balls of the over. In the next over, however, the bowler trapped him LBW – his fourth wicket of the innings – and the jubilant Zimbabwe team celebrated their historic and convincing victory.