May 7, 2001

Series review: Zimbabwe justify favourites tag over Bangladesh

Numerous records were equalled, set and broken in the two-match Test series which Zimbabwe started as firm favourites to win. In the end they justified that favouritism but still Bangladesh could hold their heads high as they forced the second match into the final day after suffering an innings defeat in the First Test at Queens.

 Guy Whittall
Guy Whittall: Highest score of series
Photo © AFP

Zimbabwe clinched the First Test with a comprehensive innings and 32-run victory with a day-and-a-half to spare and it became their second-largest margin of victory after the innings and 64-run win over Pakistan in February 1995 at Harare Sports Club.

Bangladesh opened the batting and were all out for 257 in 91.3 overs. Test debutant Andy Blignaut led the Zimbabwe attack with five wickets for 73 in 23.3 overs to register the best bowling figures on debut by a Zimbabwean.

Bangladesh's moderate total was built around half-century scores by Javed Omar (62) and Aminul Islam (84). In reply, Zimbabwe compiled 457 runs in 138.4 overs and 559 minutes to take a lead of 200 runs.

Opening batsman Guy Whittall, who had struggled with his batting on the previous tours, registered the series' highest individual score of 119 for his fourth Test hundred. His knock came off 194 balls in 258 minutes but it was the first time that he was dismissed after making a Test century. Andy Flower, Grant Flower and captain Heath Streak weighed in with half-century scores of 73, 68 and 67 respectively.

Andy Flower's half-century saw him equal the record of seven consecutive Test fifties set by West Indies' Everton Weekes in 1949.

Manjural Islam took six for 81 for the series' best innings bowling, which were also the best bowling figures for Bangladesh in their brief Test history.

Bangladesh's reply got off to a troubled start as they lost Mehrab Hossain for no score after just five balls. Habibul Bashar, with 24, teamed up with Javed Omar to add 55 runs for the second wicket.

Apart from Islam who made 11, the next six batsmen were out before reaching double figures. With Khaled Mashud unavailable through injury, Omar ran out of partners in the 59th over, while on 85, with the score on 168.

 Javed Omar
Javed Omar: Carried his bat on debut
Photo © AFP

However, Omar became the first player to carry his bat through an innings on his debut for over a century and only the third in history. He was duly named Man Of the Match, a rare feat for a player whose team had just suffered an innings defeat.

Zimbabwe then wrapped up the series with an eight-wicket victory in the second match at Harare Sports Club.

Bangladesh, who batted first, suffered a big blow when Omar was dismissed by Heath Streak for just one run in the second over of the first day. Half-centuries by Hossain (71) and Bashar (64) helped the tourists to a first innings total of 254 in 120.5 overs.

Streak finished with the best figures for Zimbabwe with four wickets for 38 runs in 30 overs. In reply, Zimbabwe declared their first innings at 421/9 on the third day for a lead of 167.

Bangladesh were defiant in the second innings as they went on to record their highest second-innings total of 266 which they reached just before lunch on the final day.

Bashar was in top form again with his second half-century score of the match with 76 runs. Brighton Watambwa was the pick of the Zimbabwe bowlers with four wickets for 64 runs off 21.5 overs, while left-arm spinner Raymond Price took three for 94.

Set exactly 100 to win the match, Zimbabwe reached the target after just 24.3 overs in 107 minutes. Whittall did much of the work with 60 runs and was named Man of the Match.

Heath Streak
Heath Streak: Man of the series
Photo © AFP

Streak was named Man of the Series for his 11 wickets with the ball and 154 runs with the bat. Whittall was the leading batsman with 238 runs while Grant Flower was the third best on 152 runs.

Watambwa was the second leading wicket taker with nine while Blignaut finished with the eight wickets he took in Bulawayo.

For Bangladesh, Omar and Bashar were the leading batsman with 191 and 164 runs respectively. Islam was the best bowler with six wickets.