Second Test

Bangladesh v Zimbabwe

At Chittagong, November 15, 16, 17, 18, 19. Zimbabwe won by eight wickets. Toss: Bangladesh.

Although Zimbabwe won comfortably to take the series 1-0, there was a hint of improvement by Bangladesh: they took the game into a fifth day for only the second time (excluding the rain-affected draw at Dhaka) in their seven Tests. But they were always playing catch-up after conceding a massive 542 during the first two days.

The M. A. Aziz Stadium became Bangladesh's second Test venue, and the world's 82nd. Chittagong's local hero, Akram Khan, replaced Khaled Mahmud, while the left-arm pace of Manjurul Islam gave way to the right-armed Mohammad Sharif. Zimbabwe made one enforced change, replacing the injured Murphy with the medium-paced all-rounder Brent, and handing the captaincy to Carlisle.

Under a hot sun, with the pitch looking perfect, Naimur Rahman surprised everyone by opting to field. Probably he was influenced by Bangladesh's preceding three Tests, in which they batted first and were bundled out for under 140 every time. The Zimbabwe openers responded gleefully, putting on 108. Trevor Gripper batted nearly six hours and reached his maiden Test century, after Enamul Haque missed a return catch when he was 83. Craig Wishart also got a maiden Test hundred, helping erase the memory of two near misses. His dismissal brought the return of Andy Flower, who had retired after colliding with Enamul, to complete his 12th Test century; he remained unbeaten when Carlisle declared. Zimbabwe had passed 500 for the third time in 12 months.

Scoring 343 to save the follow-on looked an uphill task, and Bangladesh never got near it. Apart from Habibul Bashar, with yet another maiden Test century, only Mohammad Ashraful, the 17-year-old who had become Test cricket's youngest centurion in September, showed application, battling 140 minutes for 33. In the follow-on, he showed even greater self-denial, and scored ten in 146 minutes.

Bangladesh's second innings promised much but delivered little. Javed Omar featured in partnerships of 73 and 122, the best yet for their first two wickets, and Habibul proved his class again, until his rash shot triggered a mini-collapse of three for eight. All three fell to Grant Flower's slow left-arm, aimed intelligently into the rough outside the right-handers' leg stump. Zimbabwe hardly missed their specialist spinner, Murphy, as the part-timers Flower and Marillier rose to the occasion. Even Flower was surprised by his success - four wickets in each innings.

At 227 for four, 64 behind, with Omar on 80, Bangladesh entered the last day with a faint hope of saving the match. That disappeared with the first ball of the morning: Friend trapped Omar in front of the wicket after 416 minutes' defiance. Bangladesh lost five for 40, and it took the last man, Sharif, to stave off the innings defeat with a bold 24 off 11 balls. Zimbabwe's target was only 11, but there was still some drama - Mashrafe bin Mortaza dismissed Ebrahim and Carlisle with his fifth and sixth deliveries. But in his next over, Gripper despatched the hat-trick ball to the boundary, and he completed the job three balls later.

Man of the Match: G. W. Flower.
Close of play: First day, Zimbabwe 236-4 (A. Flower 15, Brent 9); Second day, Bangladesh 57-1 (Al Sahariar 25, Habibul Bashar 21); Third day, Bangladesh 15-0 (Javed Omar 2, Al Sahariar 11); Fourth day, Bangladesh 227-4 (Javed Omar 80, Mohammad Ashraful 1).

© John Wisden & Co