Zimbabwe v Bangladesh, 1st Test, Harare, 4th day April 20, 2013

Feeble batting hurts Bangladesh

There was help for good bowling on the Harare pitch, but Bangladesh's batting was well below what was required for Test cricket

Try to imagine the picture these analyses from Brendan Taylor and Mushfiqur Rahim paint.

"They have struggled in our conditions and we are comfortable at home. When we play them in Bangladesh, we will struggle but we know they are not used to playing on grassy wickets," Taylor said. "We were expecting difficult conditions and good bowling," said the latter.

Does it make you think a pitch like the Wanderers? Or the WACA? Of bowlers swinging it like Dale Steyn or James Anderson? Of bounce that the likes of Mohammed Irfan can extract? If you had been listening to rhetoric like this all week, it might.

Now, here's a little secret. Harare Sports Club is not the Wanderers or the WACA, even with a grass covering on it. It may sound harsh to say Kyle Jarvis and Keegan Meth are not Steyn and Anderson but they are not. They are skilful, improving bowlers and in helpful conditions, they are a handful.

There was assistance for good bowling, but that is not the sole reason Zimbabwe achieved their biggest margin of victory by runs (they have two innings wins to their name as well). When application was needed by the batsmen, Bangladesh were found sadly wanting.

Their shot selection was poor - Mahmudullah's pull to a strategically placed deep midwicket in the second innings was the most glaring example - and they were too easily frustrated by quiet periods. There was some swing and some extra bounce but it was nothing they should not have been able to counter. The question they must ask themselves is why they didn't.

Bangladesh will be criticised for not including a tour match in their schedule for purposes of adapting to conditions but Mushfiqur said he could not put the blame on that. "We had a long tour against Sri Lanka and a few injury concerns so we needed a break. But the tour match is not a big deal, we had five days here before the match.

"I am just really disappointed with the way we played, especially the batting," he added. "We had the technique to cope with that but there were too many soft dismissals especially from the senior players."

Mahmdullah faces the axe with Tamim Iqbal almost back to full fitness, but batsmen like Mohammad Ashfraful, who fought hard for 40 before being run-out, and Shakib-al-Hasan, who was cramped for room, will be expected to do better. Having had the experience of playing on this ground already - which is also where the second Test will be played - Mushfiqur is confident they will. "We'll have a few more days to prepare here," he said.

And so will Zimbabwe's top-order, who also need the time. Taylor aside, as Mushfiqur pointed out, "they didn't have too many batsmen." The openers were out cheaply, which may prompt a change in who partners Vusi Sibanda, and Hamilton Masakadza also found the going tough against Robiul Islam, who enjoyed the conditions as much as Zimbabwe's seamers.

"We know we've got work to do with the batting. We have to make sure we get that right especially at the top," Stephen Mangongo, the interim coach, said. "Overall we needed to work on technique after we were exposed in West Indies. I am happy with the application. There is great desire to improve and we know that we have some work to do."

That was the only area Zimbabwe could be disappointed in, after an impressive all-round showing. Mushfiqur admitted "they outplayed us," in all departments. That they did so by such a large margin was unexpected especially given the turmoil Zimbabwean cricket has been in during the lead up to this series but for Taylor, it was simply a case of hard work paying off.

"We took a lot out of the West Indies tour and I think we needed that experience to give ourselves a wake-up call about how much better we needed to be," he said. "We were taught a lesson there but we are willing to learn and train hard. Our bowlers are putting in the work, our batters are trying hard. We want to carry that into the next Test and better ourselves."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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