Second Test

ZImbabwe v Bangladesh

John Ward

At Bulawayo, February 26, 27, 28, 29, March 1, 2004. Drawn. Toss: Zimbabwe.

Bangladesh avoided defeat for the second time in their 28-Test history, when persistent rain handed them a draw. Their only previous escape, against Zimbabwe at Dhaka in 2001-02, had also been rain-assisted. In the three weeks prior to this match, nearly a year's worth of rain soaked Bulawayo, and much of the south-eastern corner of the ground was waterlogged. Areas next to the square, where water ran off the covers, were also a major concern.

After tireless work by the curator Noel Peck and his staff, play was scheduled for the first afternoon, but another storm put paid to that and to the second day. The game finally began an hour before lunch on the third, after umpteen inspections; umpire Mallender earned himself the nickname "Muddy" (pronounced the Yorkshire way, to rhyme with "woody"), a reference to his usual comment on the state of the outfield. When the teams were eventually named, Andy Blignaut, still feeling the thigh strain suffered in the previous Test, and Ewing were replaced by Friend and Blessing Mahwire, while Bangladesh also swapped seamers, the gentle-paced Alamgir Kabir replacing Manjural Islam.

Streak put Bangladesh in, hoping a crash of wickets might make a result possible. But the opening batsmen began with great determination. It took 37 minutes for the first runs off the bat. During the afternoon they opened up and were looking good until Shahriar Hossain slashed at Ervine and was caught behind.

That was virtually the end of Bangladesh's resistance. Wickets tumbled against a backdrop of approaching rain, which finally relieved them at 88 for five. The downpour was heavy, and more followed overnight, washing out day four. More hard work by the groundstaff meant the last day started on time, but a result was virtually out of the question.

Bangladesh subsided to 168: had Zimbabwe held their chances they could have been batting before lunch, and might still have had the glimmer of a chance. As it was, only batting practice remained. Carlisle hit his second Test hundred, nine years after his debut, and four months after making 118 against Australia at Sydney. There was little doubt which innings he will treasure more dearly. Zimbabwe had completely dominated the day and a half possible, which perhaps bred the overconfidence that cost them in the one-day series.

© John Wisden & Co