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The Bulletin by Rabeed Imam
January 10, 2005
Bangladesh 488 and 204 for 9 dec beat Zimbabwe 312 and 154 (Haque 6-45) by 226 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball commentary
Bangladesh recorded an historic first triumph in the Test arena as their bowlers, led by Enamul Haque jr, shot Zimbabwe out for 154 to set up a crushing 226-run victory. The big moment arrived at 12.56pm: Enamul got one to spin away from middle and leg, Chris Mpofu pushed at it, and Mohammad Ashraful accepted the catch at silly point, setting off scenes of wild jubilation.
Bangladesh's long wait for a Test win - four years and two months - at last came to an end 10.2 overs after lunch on the fifth day. After Zimbabwe had resumed at 42 for 3, Enamul triggered a collapse, and it was he who finished things off to give Bangladesh their most treasured moment of their 35-Test existence.
Enamul, only 18 years old, was a revelation. He had gone wicketless in the first innings but always looked threatening, and more than made good the second time around. His return of 6 for 45 was the best by a Bangladesh bowler in Tests. His burst either side of lunch sealed the issue after the overnight pair of Hamilton Masakadza and Brendan Taylor had held firm, and even threatened to attack in an action-filled first session.
Taylor escaped a confident shout for lbw in Mashrafe Mortaza's first over, the second of the day, and took 23 deliveries to get off the mark. But he cut loose once he got into his stride and was well complemented by Masakadza at the other end, as the pair added 70 in quick time.
Mohammad Rafique, who was expected to do most of damage, was in fact hit out of the attack - his first two overs cost 24 - and the batsmen rattled along at a run-a-ball rate without too many hassles. The classy Taylor, who impressed in the first innings as well, executed cover-drives with the utmost fluency and repeatedly found the gaps with his square cuts and on-drives. Masakadza, too, was totally assured in his shot-selection, and Zimbabwe's best young batsmen were suddenly testing Bangladesh's nerves.
The first hour after lunch produced 66, but the complexion of the innings changed immediately after the drinks break. In the first over afterwards Taylor (44) offered no shot to an arm ball from Enamul and was trapped in front (112 for 4).
That was the breakthrough Bangladesh needed and, soon after, Tatenda Taibu turned Enamul straight to Aftab Ahmed at short leg. Enamul was on a roll and he went on to put Bangladesh firmly on top by removing Masakadza immediately after he reached his half-century. Masakadza's drive was not timed to perfection and Enamul dived to his wrong side to come up with a wonderful return catch (126 for 6).
Bangladesh were now desperately close to their long-awaited dreamland, and there was no stopping them after lunch. Mortaza ran in with fire in his belly and Elton Chigumbura, the first-innings hero, slashed away from his body and got an under-edge through to Khaled Mashud (138 for 7). Five runs later, Enamul recorded his first five-wicket haul when Graeme Cremer pushed to silly mid-off, where Rajin Saleh plucked the ball with one hand.
Mortaza nailed Mluleki Nkala in the next over as the ball dislodged one bail, baffling the bowler and fielders alike. Mortaza thought the ball had just missed the stumps and the fielders were unsure where it had gone - but confusion turned into celebration as the Bangladeshis realised they had another wicket, and that history loomed (145 for 9).
With passion and emotion running high, Mortaza could not start his run-up for the next ball - he took time out to wipe off tears before finally getting his composure back. With anticipation of the last wicket riding high, Habibul Bashar had six men breathing down the batsmen's necks before Enamul provided the glorious finale.
But Zimbabwe could nonetheless take a lot from this Test. The gallant showing of Taibu, Chigumbura, Taylor, Masakadza and Mpofu promises a rosy future, but in this Test they were always playing catch-up. There was a feeling of inevitability from the first day, and Bangladesh were not going to let this fantastic opportunity of defeating an inexperienced opposition slip by.
Bangladesh's cricket-crazy millions have finally seen a winning Test team. It was a pity, though, that the MA Aziz Stadium was not packed to the rafters for the occasion, which as it happens should be its final day as a Test venue. Test matches will be played at another ground in Chittagong from now on.
Rabeed Imam is a sports writer for the Daily Star in Dhaka.
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