Complacency costs Zimbabwe dear
There is a narrow line between confidence and complacency, and Zimbabwe, as they have done before, have crossed it with the greatest of ease. Today's was not one of their most dismal performances - such as the one against Kenya in the World Cup last year - but it was casual enough to cost them the match against a revitalized Bangladesh team, who have now won their first match in 47 attempts and nearly five years.
There were three significant turning points in the course of the match. The first came at the tail-end of the Bangladesh innings. Mohammad Ashraful, deservedly named Man of the Match, was the catalyst as his team added 89 runs in the last ten overs, taking Zimbabwe's bowlers by surprise after their earlier successes, and turning what seemed certain to be a weak total into a competitive one of 238.
Even so, Zimbabwe were favourites to reach that target, and were on course as Barney Rogers and Stuart Carlisle shared their century partnership at a fine rate of scoring. But a fatal lapse of concentration by Rogers - the very ball after he reached his maiden one-day fifty - led to the slump of a middle order who had expected to cruise home. The golden moment was the brilliant catch at midwicket by substitute fielder Hannan Sarkar to dismiss Sean Ervine. Ervine's top-edged pull cleared the field, but Sarkar flung himself full-length with his back to the pitch, and at 140 for 5, Zimbabwe were struggling.
From that moment on, the key figure was Heath Streak, a man of great experience and ability, and with a fine temperament to boot. As long as he stayed, and there was a batsman the other end to partner him, Zimbabwe would win. But he was surprised by a hip-high full toss from Tapash Baishya and Khaled Mashud, the wicketkeeper, held a good catch running back.
That was the final nail in Zimbabwe's coffin. They now face the task of winning the final two matches if they are to clinch the series. But because of their complacency, that vital ingredient of confidence has taken a blow. On paper, they should be able to do it - but "should" is never a word to be used in connection with the Zimbabwe cricket team.