First Test Match

Zimbabwe v Bangladesh, 2000-01

John Ward

At Bulawayo, April 19, 20, 21, 22. Zimbabwe won by an innings and 32 runs. Toss: Zimbabwe. Test debuts: A. M. Blignaut, D. D. Ebrahim, B. T. Watambwa; Javed Omar, Manjurul Islam, Mohammad Sharif, Mushfiqur Rehman.

Bangladesh's inaugural overseas Test, like their first at home, ended in defeat as they were outclassed by the vastly more experienced Zimbabweans. But the home side were often unimpressive and below their best. Indeed, some players felt - as they had in the last home series in September - that their strongest team had not been selected. Gavin Rennie, who scored 93 and 37 when he opened at Wellington in Zimbabwe's previous Test, was dropped in favour of 20-year-old Dion Ebrahim, while Bryan Strang, a pillar of strength in the bowling for several seasons, gave way to newcomers Andy Blignaut and Brighton Watambwa.

This meant that, apart from Streak, four home bowlers began the match with 11 Tests and 20 wickets between them. Blignaut, however, rose to the occasion with some fine new-ball bowling, becoming the first Zimbabwean to take five wickets in an innings on Test debut. (John Traicos took five in Zimbabwe's inaugural Test back in 1992-93, but he had already played three Tests for South Africa.) Streak had put Bangladesh in on a pitch that had more grass than usual at this venue, but lacked pace. Against mostly mediocre bowling, Bangladesh reached 194 for four after tea on the first day, with Aminul Islam threatening to become the first man to score centuries in both of his country's first two Tests. But he fell to the second new ball for 84 as Zimbabwe fought back with five wickets in the last 20 overs.

After that, they never really released their grip, although Manjurul Islam was on a hat-trick after dismissing Ebrahim with the final ball of his second over and Carlisle with the first of his third. Some of Zimbabwe's early batting was too cavalier, but Whittall put his head down, batting four and a quarter hours for 119, his fourth Test century and all scored at home, while Andy Flower equalled Everton Weekes's 1940s record with his seventh consecutive Test score of fifty or more. When both were out with Zimbabwe still behind, Grant Flower and Streak, grimly at first, added 120 to put their team well ahead. Manjurul went one better than Blignaut, claiming six in an innings on debut, and Zimbabwean coach Carl Rackemann later named him the best bowler of the match. However, Bangladesh were now without wicket-keeper Khaled Masud, who broke his ankle during the lethal pre-play warm-ups on the third day. This put him out of the tour; Mehrab Hossain took over behind the stumps.

On the fourth day, Bangladesh's second innings was virtually a procession from one end while Javed Omar repeated his feat in the second one-day international by carrying his bat. He was only the third batsman, and the first for more than 100 years, to do so on Test debut, following Jack Barrett for Australia at Lord's in 1890 and Pelham Warner for England at Johannesburg in 1898-99. Omar might well have emulated Warner by reaching a century, too, had the tail given him even moderate support. But his achievement was enough to earn him the match award, a rare honour for a player whose team had lost by an innings. He dedicated it to his brother Asif, who had inspired his cricketing career until his early death in 1995.
Man of the Match: Javed Omar.

© John Wisden & Co