Iqbal hundred seals series win
Zimbabwe 298 (Taibu 85*, Matsikenyeri 51*, Enamul 7-95) and 286 (Taibu 153, Taylor 78, Enamul 5-105) drew with Bangladesh 211 (Rafique 56, Hondo 6-59) and 285 for 5 (Iqbal 121, Saleh 56*)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Bangladesh achieved their first Test-series win after a tense final day in which they spurned an opportunity to go for a win, mindful of the larger objective. Chasing 374, Bangladesh's batsmen, led by Nafis Iqbal, began the day carefully, saving wickets for a late charge that never came. They ended at 285 for 5, scoring about two per over, but this was a draw that meant more than a Test win for them.
Zimbabwe bowled spiritedly, but the pitch had nothing for the bowlers. They were briefly encouraged when two wickets fell soon afer tea, but Rajin Saleh and Khaled Mashud prevented any further problems. However, as the day came to a close, Tatenda Taibu brought on Stuart Matsikenyeri, whose excessive turn had the batsmen in trouble immediately. But the discomfort came too late and, as both teams walked off amid descending gloom, one wondered if Taibu had missed a trick.
There was little the bowlers could do in the morning, given Iqbal and Javed Omar's ultra-defensive approach. They kept their bats well away as the bowlers maintained a line outside off stump, and otherwise tapped the ball to the fielders. The morning session yielded only 37 runs, and Taibu tried several bowling changes before settling on the legspin of Graeme Cremer, who induced an edge from Omar (133 for 1). He later surprised Mohammad Ashraful too with one that bounced, kissed the edge of the bat, and went to slip (153 for 3).
Iqbal's demeanour in the morning suggested that Bangladesh wanted a draw, but after lunch he brought out drives and cuts en route to his first Test century. But with wickets falling around him regularly, Iqbal reverted to his role as stodgy defender until Saleh provided a reassuring presence. Iqbal was eventually dismissed right after tea, chasing one from Tinashe Panyangara and nicking it to the wicketkeeper. Panyangara also removed Habibul Bashar and Aftab Ahmed, to give Zimbabwe fleeting hope of the improbable.
Saleh and Mashud then put on 79 as the light faded, ending their stand in a flurry of fours. While Mashud scored 28, Saleh ran up 56 - hitting three boundaries in succession to go past fifty and light up a turgid innings.
The mission to win a series had finally been accomplished. And it took some doing. At several key moments in the second Test Bangladesh could so easily have thrown it away, as they have done in the past. But, to their credit, they did not let their eagerness get the better of them. Even considering the easy nature of the pitch, scoring 374 in the last innings to win was always going to be asking too much. Fortunately for Dav Whatmore Bangladesh's batsmen stuck to the task on hand, ground out the draw, and achieved the bigger goal.
Rahul Bhatia is on the staff of Cricinfo.