World-class spinners made the difference - Taylor
Brendan Taylor has said the biggest factor in Bangladesh's 3-0 win over his Zimbabwe side was in the spin department, terming it a "chalk and cheese" comparison. Zimbabwe went down by 186 runs in the third Test and he said that the 3-0 series loss was hurtful not just to him but the whole team.
Zimbabwe lost the first Test in dramatic fashion after a spectacular collapse at the hands of Taijul Islam on the third day in Dhaka. It was followed by big defeats in Khulna and Chittagong. Throughout the series, Bangladesh's spinners held sway in most of the key moments.
Shakib Al Hasan and Taijul were the top two wicket-takers in the series, with 18 and 17 respectively, while Jubair Hossain picked up 11 wickets, including a five-for in the third Test. Shakib's scalps came at an average of 18.27 while Taijul had Bangladesh's best bowling figures, 8-39 in the fourth innings of the Dhaka Test.
In comparison, Zimbabwe's Natsai M'shangwe took seven wickets at 62.14 and though Malcolm Waller took six wickets in Khulna, he was pulled up by the umpires for a suspected action and was promptly dropped in Chittagong.
Sikandar Raza bowled 82 overs in the series, picking up five wickets, a bonus for a part-time spinner, while specialists Tafadzwa Kamungozi and John Nyumbu were dropped after taking one wicket between them in Dhaka.
"I think Bangladesh are a slightly better side in their conditions," Taylor said. "The difference is in the spin department. Chalk and cheese. The first Test match set the tone. In hindsight had we gotten 20-30 runs [more], it could have been a different result. I think if we managed to pull that first Test off it would have given the side momentum. To lose in the fashion we did is tough. Toss is always important, you cannot control that. But that's not the reason why we lost the series. We lost the series because Bangladesh have been better than us in the three Tests.
"It certainly hurts as an individual. It hurts the team. It is tough to comprehend that, but Bangladesh have played better cricket so we've got to give them credit. They made it difficult for us. In all three Test matches, batting first in the last two Tests and getting 450, 500, it's always tough to try and come back and win from there. So we fought pretty hard but the better team held on in the end and got the results."
Despite the trouble against spin throughout the series, Zimbabwe were actually on equal footing going into the fifth day's play at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium. They had nine wickets in hand, with Hamilton Masakadza and Sikandar Raza creaming the Bangladesh attack for 19 overs on the fourth evening after being set 449 to win.
But rather than being patient and getting on top of the spinners, aggression cost both batsmen in the first hour of play. Masakadza's reverse-sweep went awry while Raza struck a full-toss down midwicket's throat. It triggered a slowdown and ultimately the bowling out of Zimbabwe by the end of the second session. Apart from Regis Chakavba, none of the Zimbabwe batsmen or allrounders were able to stand up to spin.
Taylor said the batsmen's approach was correct but they had little experience of playing on such a deteriorating pitch on the fifth day, against a spin attack that was making them play differently. "I think we did show the right approach," he said. "We don't really bat on wickets like this on day five when it deteriorates like that. They are very good batting wickets for the first three days then they become really difficult.
"When you've got a quality spin attack, on day five it is certainly going to be a massive challenge. I think that's certainly the difference between the two sides. They have got world-class spinners and we are struggling for a couple."
Taylor praised Chakabva for his two fifties and hundred in the series, including his resistance on the fifth day in Chittagong, but otherwise he said an opportunity to show survival instinct was not taken.
"[There have been] players who have found a bit of form and have been good for us throughout the series," he said. "There have been other players, including myself, who haven't really had the series they would have liked. It was an opportunity for us to step up and bat 90 overs. Unfortunately that wasn't the case. Regis Chakabva showed a lot of character. But that's done now; we need to focus on the shorter format."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84