Zimbabwe v Bangladesh, 2nd Test, Harare, 1st day April 25, 2013

Two teams trying to fail least

The amount of mistakes committed by both sides is indicative of the continued struggles of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh in Test cricket

Tamim Iqbal should have been run out before either he or the team had scored a run. He tapped the second ball of the morning to mid-on and took off before seeing that it had been stopped. A quick throw, taken off balance, missed the stumps. Had it hit, Tamim would have been well short.

He also should have been run out in the over after lunch. After clipping a ball to midwicket, he insisted on the third run and, while making his way back, there was a direct hit at the non-striker's end. He made his ground, albeit in needless, squeaky bum fashion.

Tamim actually was run out two overs later. He pushed the ball to mid-off and thoughtlessly charging down the track in search of his 50th run. Shingi Masakadza had watched the earlier attempt with interest, made a mental note of Tamim's penchant for desperate scrambles and took great pleasure in knocking over the stumps and seeing the opener off.

The collective sigh suggested only one thought: does he never learn? As the day went on, that applied to almost every player on both sides.

Do Bangladesh batsmen never learn that there are enough aid agencies in the world and they do not have to donate wickets? Has Kyle Jarvis not learnt, especially after the first Test, that overpitching is not a good idea? Has Graeme Cremer not learnt to catch?

Remember when Bruce Springsteen sang about glory days? This is not what he was talking about. This was the opposite of two old friends meeting up years later to talk about the good times of the past, regretful that they could not summon the will to return to that. Neither Zimbabwe nor Bangladesh have ever enjoyed golden ages and today they showed why.

As far as quality goes, this was as close to unbranded as cricket can get. There was no urgency and no obvious intent. Everything happened behind a sepia film of lethargy, something that was no good for a time where the most vibrant colours are expected.

Zimbabwe decided long before they arrived at the ground this morning that they would bowl first if they won the toss. It was probably the right call, with grass covering the pitch, but it was made so far in advance that it backfired on them. The bowlers arrived with the belief that they were pre-programmed to take wickets and when they didn't pick up early, they became frantic.

Jarvis was as ordinary as Tamim joked he was. His length betrayed him and his lines followed soon after. He bowled too full and strayed on to the pads too often. Keegan Meth had more control and moved the ball both ways but Bangladesh's openers countered the swing well.

Having done that, it was needless for Jahurul Islam to try a lofted drive as the first hour drew to a close. He skied it and Malcolm Waller hung on. The next four wickets to fell were all in similar fashion. They were not the result of testing deliveries but of loose shots from batsmen who should know better.

Mohammad Ashraful was out on the pull again, Mominul Haque presented extra-cover with catching practice - which we know Zimbabwe need - and even Shakib Al Hasan engineered his own demise. Having just cut Elton Chigumbura for four, he chose to charge him and edged through to Richmond Mutumbami.

But Bangladesh's lack of staying power was not solely to blame for the way the day drifted. Zimbabwe were as responsible. They had four run-out chances in the morning session and two later on. Bangladesh should never have been running between the wickets so frantically and Zimbabwe should have hit more than once.

Matches are not won by waiting for the opposition to put a foot wrong as Zimbabwe's attack did, or by making small progress and then tossing it away as Bangladesh's batsmen did, but by taking the initiative

They should also have caught better. On three occasions, ball went to hand and was spilled. On one other, it could have gone to hand. Between them, Cremer and Brendan Taylor were responsible for all four. Zimbabwe did not even need to take all their chances, just half of them would have ensured Bangladesh were all out by the close.

Strokeplay was risky throughout the innings. Shakib threw his bat at some, sending them between slips and gully. That he had no third man in place for a significant part of his innings helped too. Shakib was always too good a player not to come back from his two low scores in the first Test and although he rode his luck, he also showed some of his prowess.

When he was batting, it was obvious Zimbabwe's attack were just waiting for a mistake rather than attacking. Shingi Masakadza and Chigumbura bowled well in small patches but even they could not string together as many as four decent deliveries.

They allowed Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim to thrive and the captain did so most convincingly. He cut out the gambles and his boundaries were classy: a cut shot when offered width, a delicate steer to third man and his best, a six off the legspinner lofted cleanly over long-off.

But he also flirted with danger. He was very nearly stumped after struggling to get his foot back in time. Had Mutumbami been a touch quicker, he may have been out. He was dropped after top-edging a pull but when he was out, it was the first genuine wicket of the day, Jarvis getting one to nip back in and strike Mushfiqur on the pads as he played a fraction too late. For a moment, there was a flashback to how Test matches are won.

Not by waiting for the opposition to put a foot wrong as Zimbabwe's attack did, not by making small progress and then tossing it away as Bangladesh's batsmen did, but by taking the initiative.

Both teams are desperate to prove themselves worthy. Bangladesh edged ahead in that department by crossing the 300-run mark. If they are to continue to clamber in that direction, they will have to bat more sensibly in the morning and urge their bowlers not to emulate Zimbabwe when they take the field.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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