First Test

Bangladesh v Zimbabwe

Utpal Shuvro

At Chittagong, January 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 2005. Bangladesh won by 226 runs. Toss: Bangladesh. Test debuts: A. G. Cremer, C. B. Mpofu, B. G. Rogers.

At 12.53 p.m. on January 10, the moment all Bangladesh had been waiting for arrived. When Enamul Haque junior had Christopher Mpofu held at silly point, they recorded their maiden victory in their 35th Test. They had been dreaming of this day since gaining Test status in 2000, but first had to endure 31 defeats, three draws and innumerable sleepless nights.

Zimbabwe, fielding three debutants, were the weakest opponents they had ever faced but, from beginning to end, the Test followed Bangladesh's script. After winning the toss in perfect batting conditions, they amassed their highest Test total, took a sizeable first-innings lead, scored quickly in the second innings to earn ample time to dismiss Zimbabwe again, and completed their historic victory shortly after lunch on the final day.

Captain Habibul Bashar called it the best day of his life. He had led from the front, scoring fifties in both innings for the fifth time in Tests; he was unlucky to fall only six short of his fourth Test century on the opening day. Rajin Saleh also missed his hundred by a whisker, but there were four half-centuries in Bangladesh's first-innings 488 and two near misses - plus half a dozen fifty partnerships. They began with 91 from openers Javed Omar and Nafis Iqbal, then a Bangladesh first-wicket record, and the highlight was 119 for the fourth from Habibul and Saleh. Zimbabwe's misery grew as the final four wickets added 147, including 134 in 28 overs between lunch and tea, carrying Bangladesh past their previous highest total, 416 against West Indies in St Lucia in May 2004.

They were finally all out just after tea on the second day; Zimbabwe lost four wickets by the close and two more next morning, still 137 adrift of saving the follow-on. Then Taibu fought back with the help of Chigumbura, as they too added 119. Both eventually fell to left-arm spinner Mohammad Rafique, whose arm-ball gave the Zimbabweans nightmares. But, by the time Taibu was trapped, eight shy of a maiden Test century and just before the third day ended, he had averted the follow-on. Bangladesh had never before batted with the aim of setting a target, but they rose to the challenge, piling on 204 runs in 51 overs against defensive bowling and fielding. When the ninth wicket fell, they declared for only the second time, leaving Zimbabwe 381 to win.

An inspired new-ball spell from Tapash Baisya reduced Zimbabwe to two for two in their fourth over, and they were three down by the close. But Masakadza, in his first Test since November 2002, and Taylor started the fifth day in brilliant form, adding 66 in 15 overs before the drinks break. Immediately afterwards, however, Taylor was lbw offering no shot to a straight ball from Enamul Haque. That opened the floodgates. Enamul had bowled beautifully in the first innings without reward; this time, luck was on his side, and his flight and turn sent wickets tumbling like ripe mangoes. Dismissing last man Mpofu gave him six for 45, the best Test figures for Bangladesh, before cartwheels and a lap of honour kicked off the national celebrations.

Man of the Match: Enamul Haque, jun.

© John Wisden & co.
 
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