Tour review

Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe, 2019-20

Mohammad Isam

Test match (1): Bangladesh 1, Zimbabwe 0 One-day internationals (3): Bangladesh 3, Zimbabwe 0 Twenty20 internationals (2): Bangladesh 2, Zimbabwe 0

Bangladesh were in desperate need of a tonic, which Zimbabwe obligingly provided. A poor year on the field in 2019 had been accompanied by conflict between the Bangladeshi players and the board, the seismic suspension on corruption charges of Shakib Al Hasan, and an ongoing debate over the future of Mashrafe bin Mortaza. However, their problems paled alongside Zimbabwe's, and the gulf between the teams was huge: Bangladesh won all six matches, five by a wide margin.

Recent games against Zimbabwe had often provided opponents with a chance to buff up their career statistics, and so it proved again. One of the chief beneficiaries was Liton Das, who across the formats hit two centuries and three fifties. The Test, meanwhile, was a personal triumph for Mushfiqur Rahim, who hit his third double-hundred, and second against Zimbabwe. It gave him four entries in Bangladesh's top ten scores.

There was also a century for Mominul Haque, in his first home Test as captain, while teenage off-spinner Nayeem Hasan collected nine wickets. Liton and a back-in-form Tamim Iqbal both passed 300 runs in the ODIs, while Liton was easily the leading scorer in the two-match Twenty20 series. With seven wickets at nine, seamer Mohammad Saifuddin returned from a back injury to finish as the most successful bowler in the 50-over games.

For Zimbabwe, there was little to lift the gloom. A shaft of light was provided by the 19-year-old all-rounder Wesley Madhevere, who made his international debut soon after appearing in his third Under-19 World Cup. He made useful middle-order runs in the one-dayers, and deployed some varied off-breaks. Craig Ervine - captain for the first time while Sean Williams stayed at home to be with his wife, who was expecting their first child - hit his third Test hundred. Sikandar Raza scored a couple of one-day fifties, and shouldered a big workload with his off-spin. But Chamu Chibhabha, the new white-ball captain, split the webbing in his hand in the first ODI, and was ruled out of the rest; Williams, who arrived in time to take part in the one-day series, deputised.

The continuing dysfunction in Bangladesh cricket was demonstrated after the Test when board president Nazmul Hassan criticised Mushfiqur's decision to opt out of the split tour of Pakistan, due to resume in April. "Players have to think about the country, and not just themselves," he said, contradicting earlier comments that players were free to make up their own minds. Mushfiqur, who was subsequently dropped for the third ODI, said his family did not think it was safe to play there. Meanwhile, the approaching shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic prompted the BCB to put in measures to reduce attendances at the T20 matches.

© John Wisden & Co