At Harare, April 17-20, 2013. Zimbabwe won by 335 runs. Toss: Bangladesh. Test debuts: T. Maruma, K. O. Meth, R. Mutumbami.
In a match otherwise devoid of excellence, one man stood above the rest. As many around him - Bangladesh's batsmen in particular - plumbed new depths of haplessness, Brendan Taylor calmly went about scaling the peaks with two innings of authority. In the first of them, Taylor marked his country's 33rd independence day with the highest score by a Zimbabwe captain, passing Andy Flower's 156 against Pakistan on this ground in 1994-95. Then, once the Bangladesh reply had fallen 37 runs short of his 171, Taylor went about constructing a second century, to become the first Zimbabwean outside the Flower family to score two in the same Test. And he was the first to achieve the feat in a winning cause - Zimbabwe's tenth in Tests, and the sixth against these opponents.
Bangladesh had decided to bowl first on Harare Sports Club's greenest pitch for some time, yet by fielding just two seamers they lacked the resources to take advantage. Robiul Islam worked hard to make up for the shortfall, bowling 57 overs for his nine wickets in the match, yet Taylor outlasted him each time in what became a key battle. Bangladesh would have preferred it had Shakib Al Hasan not been needed to bowl on his comeback from a shin injury, but in desperation they briefly turned to his left-arm spin too.
It might have been different had Shahriar Nafees held a tough chance in the first innings, running in from long-off when Taylor had 35. Zimbabwe were 94 for three at the time, with Taylor and Waller building cautiously; they added a further 98. Taylor went on to his century shortly before stumps, and upped the rate on the second day, with Cremer offering useful company in a stand of 106. Zimbabwe's 389 was probably worth an extra 30 - the square boundaries were enormous and the outfield was slow - though their total looked a touch slim when Bangladesh reached stumps on 95 for one from 25 overs.
But the match took its decisive turn next morning, when Bangladesh rolled over in the most submissive fashion, reaching 102 for one before losing nine for 32 - including the last five without addition, only the fourth such sequence in Test history, and the first not by New Zealand.
Despite a lead of 255, Taylor played safe by not enforcing the follow-on, a decision which almost backfired when Robiul's opening spell brought him four for 15. Taylor withstood the blitz, however, and - proving a little application was all that was required in seam-friendly conditions - found enough support from Cremer, once more, and debutant Keegan Meth to bring up his second century early on the fourth morning.
Set an implausible 483, the demoralised Bangladeshis lasted less than four hours in their second innings. Jarvis did the early damage, and Cremer took four for four to wrap up the tail. "I thought we had the technique to cope with their pace bowling," said captain Mushfiqur Rahim, "but there were just too many soft dismissals in the middle, particularly from our experienced players."
Man of the Match: B. R. M. Taylor.