The Chevrones owned the moment when stumper Regis Chakabva held onto a skier from Ariful Haque off a flighted delivery from left-arm spinner Wellington Masakdza. More importantly, they hold onto the important moments throughout the Test , if not the catches.
Sylhet’s Test Debut: Zimbabwe Seize Rare Opportunities
There were quite a few questions raised regarding the significance of the Test series between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe but for Zimbabwe, who missed out on a 2019 World Cup berth, any game in any format is something they are grateful for. This was their first win in an away Test since 2001, first Test win in five years and just their third Test away win in their cricketing history.
One of the major statistics that set Zimbabwe’s batsmen apart from the Bangladeshis was that they batted long with gutsy knocks. Zimbabwe’s first innings lasted 117.3 overs whereas Bangladesh batted for only 114.1 overs across both the innings. It is quite suggestive of their shortcomings and what went wrong.
With the first Test lost, Bangladesh have quite a few positives to draw from it. Taijul Islam stepped up in Shakib’s absence taking eleven wickets in the match and Ariful Haque showed sparks with the bat on a promising Test debut.
Zimbabwe Turn Up Fair
Zimbabwe did everything right and it showed. They got the first innings runs, the pacers dominated in the first innings on a dust bowl, built a healthy lead and managed a defendable total and to round it off, the spinners claimed nine wickets in the second innings. A perfect recipe to topple any side in the subcontinent.
While Wellington Masakadza’s selection ahead of the experienced off-spinner John Nyumbu came somewhat as a surprise given the former’s lacklustre bowling performances in the ODI series preceding the Tests but it was the other debutant Brandon Mavuta , the young leg-spinning all-rounder who stepped up in place of Graeme Cremer, Zimbabwe’s best bowler for away matches. Mavuta snapped up four important middle-order wickets and ensured Bangladesh were cut off from the last innings chase.
As much as it was Sean Williams, Sikandar Raza, Hamilton Masakadza and the bowlers who contributed to the win, the credit must also be given to the management who put away all the political and financial issues aside to make sure Zimbabwe fielded a strong side and ensured they had no ‘mental baggage’ or any backroom drama to worry about.
Back to the drawing board for Bangladesh
Its never easy playing a series with your best players missing out due to injuries, in Bangladesh’s case, the absence of Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan hurt. But it wasnt that they didnt have all bases covered. They played two left arm spinners and off-spinning all-rounder Mehedi Hasan Miraz who bowled tight lines and took wickets at regular intervals but the problem was never going to be their bowling.
Their batting left a great deal to be desired and it all came down to the technique and resolve employed in both the innings. Their batting imperfections in the second innings stuck out like the nose on your face as majority of the batsmen gifted their wicket away by attempting aggressive shorts in vain.
Going into the next Test, there’s not much chopping and changing to be done for the hosts. The batsmen need to re-invent their defensive skills and curb the attacking instinct if they are to bat for a longer time at the crease. They could also look at the possibility of playing a fast bowling all-rounder in form of Mohammad Saifuddin, who showed in the recently concluded ODI series how much his bowling has matured since he last played an ODI.
With Zimbabwe 1-0 up in the series, the hosts would look to square the series as the two sides next meet in Dhaka in the Second and the final Test starting 11th November.