Zimbabwe v Bangladesh, 2nd Test, Harare, 5th day

An hour of Test worthiness

For a low-profile series that showcased the ordinary in its missed chances and soft dismissals, the first hour of day five was its tribute to Test cricket

Firdose Moonda in Harare

April 29, 2013

Comments: 10 | Text size: A | A

Mushfiqur Rahim and Brendan Taylor with the trophy, Zimbabwe v Bangladesh, 2nd Test, Harare, 5th day, April 29, 2013
To separate the two teams may have taken another match © AFP
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That first hour. It had it all. Outswing searching for the edge. Bouncers in the hope of enticing a pull. The offspinner changing the angle to round the wicket, looking for the lbw. And one man and his younger brother hanging on.

For a low-profile series that showcased the ordinary in its missed chances and soft dismissals, the first hour of day five was its tribute to Test cricket. Bowlers were trying to get wickets by experimenting with their strategies and batsmen were applying themselves by showing good judgment of when to leave but still sending the boundary ball where it belonged.

Bangladesh were obviously searching, Zimbabwe were obviously being obdurate. It was all thinly laced together with that magic ingredient: pressure.

The bubble burst, not when Shingi Masakadza's long nightwatchman's vigil ended to give some credence to the team management's claim that he is a genuine all-rounder, but when Elton Chigumbura played into the trap that was set for him. He had two short midwickets to choose from and he picked out Robiul Islam.

That was the shot that signalled Zimbabwe's fight would exhaust itself before the day was up. It was the one that indicated all Bangladesh had to do was keep at it. A full day was too daunting for Zimbabwe's line-up and the patience of Hamilton Masakadza would run out of partners. Three-quarters of the way through the afternoon session, that is exactly what transpired.

It ended a basement battle that delivered on competitiveness, even though it was not evenly distributed throughout. The first Test belonged to Zimbabwe, bar the top order's time at the crease, the second almost entirely to Bangladesh.

The sixty minutes on the final morning was a tense tussle which, on its own, explained why these two teams should continue playing Test cricket. That passage of play would have convinced even those who wrote them off that they are worthy Test teams, because it was engaging and enterprising in equal measure.

Throughout the series, there were glimpses but not sustained periods of that. The contest between Zimbabwe's batsmen and Bangladesh's spinners turned out to be them against Robiul. The winner was definitely the latter. Robiul's away swing was impressive throughout and he proved as dangerous as he was difficult to get away.

Kyle Jarvis tested Bangladesh in the first Test but they had the better of him in the second. He learnt the hard way what can happen when you continually bowl the wrong length. Jarvis is as inexperienced as Robiul and both will be worth keeping an eye on as they develop.

So will Nasir Hossain and Richmond Mutumbami. Nasir has a Test average of 46.70 after 10 matches and seems to bat far too low. He has shown himself to be a stroke player especially against spin and the short ball. Mutumbami had a less emphatic impact on the series but was tidy behind the stumps and drove with confidence.

And then there are the two men who would have attracted the bulk of the praise and criticism - the captains. Mushfiqur Rahimm and Brendan Taylor both led with the bat and are getting better at doing the same in the field.

 
 
The sixty minutes on the final morning was a tense tussle which, on its own, explained why these two teams should continue playing Test cricket. That passage of play would have convinced even those who wrote them off that they are worthy Test teams, because it was engaging and enterprising in equal measure.
 

Mushfiqur still has to get used to managing a bowler of Robiul's quality and moving away from a hefty reliance on left-arm spin. Taylor's fielding positions can often leave a lot to be desired. There were occasions where he spread the field when he should have been trying to stop a single off the last ball of an over to prevent the in-form batsman getting on strike. Often, his men were placed too deeply to be able to take chances.

Missed opportunities on both sides blighted the series but there were some good takes too. Vusi Sibanda pulled off a blinder at short backward point to dismiss Mushfiqur for 93 while Nasir reacted quickly at first slip to get rid of Graeme Cremer. What lacks is consistency.

These teams do not have enough players they can rely on to regularly perform, and that has a direct impact on their confidence. They are constantly unsure of whether even the relatively big names like Hamilton Masakadza or Shakib al Hasan will deliver. In this match, both did. In the first, both did not.

Until that changes, their status as Test teams will remain as it is. Bangladesh's levelling of the series does not alter their position on the rankings, where they still sit at the bottom, but it does give them the knowledge that they can win away from home in conditions that are considered unfamiliar to them.

Zimbabwe's squaring of a series does not even put them on the Test rankings. They will need to play a minimum of eight matches in a particular period to qualify. If all their tours go as planned, they will play eight Tests this year and probably take up a position below Bangladesh. That is probably where they deserve to sit.

To separate the two teams may have taken another match. But, as so often happens in Test cricket these days, the contest was too short. Without a deciding third Test, the series feels unfinished. It will restart with a limited-overs leg and will be reignited at Test level again when Zimbabwe travel to Bangladesh. If they produce more cricket like the first hour today, it will be a clash worth waiting for.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by nafizimtiaz on (May 1, 2013, 13:07 GMT)

According to the Test Performance My Team will be.. 1. Tamim Iqbal 2. BRM Taylor 3. H Masakadza 4. Mushfiqur Rahim (Wk) 5. Shakib Al Hasan 6. Nasir Hossain 7. E Chigumbura 8. Sohag Gazi 9. SW Masakadza 10. Robiul Islam 11.KM Jarvis Now people Please help me to find out the captain of this team.

Posted by Tanvir2050 on (May 1, 2013, 7:24 GMT)

Masakdza is no where close to Shakib and he will never be................Shakib is a world class player in all format..........and the best all rounder over the last three years............

Posted by Nduru on (April 30, 2013, 7:32 GMT)

A bit touchy about Shakib from the Bangladesh fans. BUT, I agree that a better comparison would be Hamilton and Ashraful. Both scored centuries on debut, both continue to show flashes of brilliance, both have loads of potential, but also both are very inconsistent, tend to throw their wickets away, and mysteriously don't perform when you are relying on them. Its kind of typical of Hamilton to get a century when we have already lost the match rather than step up in key moments where he could win it.

Posted by   on (April 29, 2013, 22:25 GMT)

"If all their tours go as planned, they will play eight Tests this year and probably take up a position below Bangladesh. That is probably where they deserve to sit" I agree with your judgement an yes importance of Hamilton similar what Shakib to BD Team. But Shakib is a world class player in all forms where Hamilton needs find a ground in world cricket and has long way to go to achieve Shakib's stature !

Posted by   on (April 29, 2013, 19:21 GMT)

Moonda never compared teh playing abilities of Shakib and Hamiilton. He merely stressed the importance of them in their respective teams. Bangladeshi fans, kindly understand the context before becoming too touchey. Shakib is for sure a worldclass player. Hamilton has a long way to reach there.

Posted by Warm_Coffee on (April 29, 2013, 18:42 GMT)

Don't compare Hamilton to Shakib. Hamilton is a good attacking batsman but Shakib is a world class player and has been one of the best all-rounders in World Cricket for the last 3 years. In fact, he's one of the few that can play well in all forms. Once Kallis retires, Shakib looks very likely to dominate the all-round rankings in the next 10 years.

Posted by ZCFOutkast on (April 29, 2013, 18:37 GMT)

I disagree on Mutumbami Firdose. I like him(and Chakabva too), but against modest BD our batting was shown up. We mostly need to field once against top sides so we can afford to use Taylor as a keeper. This series has shown that we can't afford a specialist keeper who won't contribute the amount of runs Taylor can, even with the extra responsibility. Despite some dropped catches, Taylor pulled off a blinder. I'd imagine he wouldn't be that much sloppy with the gloves on.

I don't think his captaincy will improve much though. As long as he is scoring runs and the others do their job collectively they will paper over the cracks.

The manner in which Robiul(an Asian seamer) far outperformed Jarvis(wickets&economy) with the new ball, in all innings at his home ground was shocking. Made a mockery of our "superior" seam attack.

I'd rather have Waller's resolve&loyalty than Craig&Sean!! Mawoyo, Matsikenyeri, Waller, Hamilton, Sibanda, Taylor(wk), Chigumbura, Shingi, Utseya, Rainsford, Mpofu.

Posted by TwohedulAzam on (April 29, 2013, 18:23 GMT)

Well written but not well judged. The fact that Shakib returned from an injury after 3 months lay off was not considered, and hence his performance in the 1st test was justified. Apart from that Shakib has been the most consistent allrounder of the world and there was no doubt whether he will perform or not. The article tried to maintain a balance beetween the two team which is understandale by looking at their ranking in test cricket, however the extra line of putting Shakib and Hamilton in the same bracket was not needed (with all due respect to Hamilton, he is a fantastic batsman without a doubt).

Posted by mmorshed2k on (April 29, 2013, 17:00 GMT)

They are constantly unsure of whether even the relatively big names like Hamilton Masakadza or Shakib al Hasan will deliver.

So, Shakib = Hamilton? Okay.

Posted by TheRisingTeam on (April 29, 2013, 16:47 GMT)

People need to realise that very few countries play Test Cricket and very few are world class and it is clearly not a popular form. Both Bangladesh and Zimbabwe are the latest test playing nations so of course they are the weakest of teams but with top players retiring over the last several years of other teams, these teams are going through a transition where they have to fill them with new young inexperienced players and I doubt they can 'easily' dominate Zimbabwe and especially Bangladesh. Just take the recent under-19 test series between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka which ended up in a draw. Don't forget Sri Lanka got thrashed 3-0 in Australia and both New Zealand and Pakistan thrashed in South Africa bowled out for scores less than 50 even. Bangladesh have improved so much in the last year and a half and have has more than a 100 million supporters to back them up.

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