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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 26, 2013, 1:22 GMT

    Ferdous u witty, brilliant Moonda! Your piece was sheer poetry. Read it thrice. Wish the guys on the field took their task half as seriously u do. These run outs were mind boggling. Why the scramble for singles when u have 5 full days to sweat it out. Guess some people will never learn. Tamim has a big mouth. He talks like an elder statesman almost and then does the silliest things on the pitch. Its now up to the tail to take the score to 400. A tall order, but it might still happen.

  • Dre on April 25, 2013, 23:54 GMT

    This 1st days play reminded me of why I think a team like Ireland also deserves a chance. When they turn out for ICC events, they do the simple things very well. Their fielding is always of a high standard and they rarely gift wickets. If they are given the same amount of support and opportunities as Bang and Zim get, I am confident that they will surpass them sooner than many may think. They seem like a team that can make the most of their limited resources and punch above their weight, similar to the NZ team.

  • Dummy4 on April 25, 2013, 19:12 GMT

    Fuel to the argument that both teams need more tests!

  • Dummy4 on April 25, 2013, 18:19 GMT

    both teams are useless for test cricket test status should be takenfrom them

  • Fraser on April 25, 2013, 17:55 GMT

    absolutely, it was a contest of how could do the least wrong.

  • Chris on April 25, 2013, 16:56 GMT

    That's why both teams are rightly ranked in the bottom. These silly mistakes from both sides is unacceptable. Why get run out in a test match? - there are unlimited overs. Tamim did the same thing when he scored a 100 against Sri Lanka a month ago. Bangladesh really should've been 300/1 not 300/6 since a lot of our batsman as usual threw their wickets away. It was an ordinary day from both sides.

  • Farhan on April 25, 2013, 16:51 GMT

    Firdose Moonda Spot on. loved title of your report. Pathetic batting from Bangladesh. One would expect them to act professionally after the first test but it seems they tried hard to fail again. At least in first test it was good bowling that got our wicket. Honestly im a die hard BD fan but after their recent performance I am not sure if these mentally fragile cricketer should be allowed to play test cricket :/