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Firdose Moonda in Harare
September 14, 2013
When Zimbabwe beat Bangladesh on their Test comeback in 2011, Hamilton Masakadza and Brendan Taylor both scored hundreds. When they beat them again in April this year, Taylor raised his bat to triple figures twice. But in this victory over Pakistan, there was no centurion.
Instead, there were three fifties, two five-wicket hauls and whole lot of heart.
"The great thing about winning this Test match is that everyone has contributed," Taylor said. "In 2011 and even earlier this year, there were probably a few individuals who got us over the line. We've come a long way. Everyone has done something today."
Next door in South Africa they speak of Ubuntu - I am because you are - and over the course of this Test Zimbabwe were just that. Where one of them left a gap, the others stepped up to fill it.
Masakadza and Taylor made up for early losses in the first innings and when the middle order wobbled, the tenth-wicket pairing of Tendai Chatara and Brian Vitori scored the runs that gave Zimbabwe what proved to be a match-winning lead. Vitori and Chatara took five wickets each but if Tinashe Panyanagara did not keep his end tight, they may not have been able to. Even Richmond Mutumbami, who was the weak link with the bat, was exceptional with the gloves.
This win was a result of the entire machine working and an indication that Zimbabwe have progressed. "We've matured very quickly. We're a lot more professional with what we have to do," Taylor admitted.
Evidence of Zimbabwe's more developed skills is best seen when scrutinising their mindset. Instead of become overawed when Pakistan threatened to seize the advantage, like when Misbah smacked four fours in two overs in the dying moments of the match, they stuck to their task. "We were a little bit more determined this time," Taylor said.
After dominating three and a half days of the first Test, Zimbabwe were winded by a two dropped catches which allowed Younis Khan a double-century and showed how quickly things could get away from them. "In the first Test, when we lost a session, we lost a session badly," Taylor said. "But this time, we were a lot more consistent."
The bowlers were responsible for those disciplines and surprised many, including their coach Andy Waller, who was concerned before the series about how they would take 20 wickets without Kyle Jarvis and Graeme Cremer. "We knew the only way we were going to do it was by being consistent," Waller said. "We were patient and waited for the mistake. The guys were brilliant."
Staying committed is on the principles of Waller's coaching and he believes it paid off here. "This win shows how hard work has paid off and the guys have realised that," he said. "But we're nowhere near the mark we want to be. We're going to keep training and keep at it and become better."
Grant Flower, Zimbabwe's batting consultant joked the squad is used to practicing a lot "because we don't play a lot" and that will be the case for them over the next few months too. The planned series against Sri Lanka is all-but-postponed which means Zimbabwe's next assignment will be February's World Twenty20.
That may result in the steps they've taken forward here being overshadowed by time out of the game but Taylor is optimistic the gains will remain. "We've got our domestic season coming up and we're going to have to take ownership in ourselves and keep trying to better ourselves and to better each other."
The last part of that statement is the most crucial because that is how Zimbabwe will really develop. So-called smaller teams often compete either because of stand-out performances by marquee men or because they are capable as a collective. The more they manage to do the latter, the closer they come to not being labeled minnows. Zimbabwe's journey to that may be just beginning.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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