“It was all about displaying the right attitude when it mattered the most. Had Zimbabwe been a bit more disciplined, the story might have been different”
In the course of time, a clash between Zimbabwe and Bangladesh is not evenly-matched anymore. At present, Bangladesh are the heavyweights against Zimbabwe and don’t even bother the absence of their major players. Bangladesh are expected to win against Zimbabwe, while the team from Africa play to script an upset.
Over the years, Bangladesh cricket has progressed immensely, while Zimbabwe’s progress remained stagnant and hit the rock bottom due to political turmoil and financial crisis. But still, they have not forgotten to play cricket completely and cashing in whatever the opportunities they are provided.
They have played against the big boys like Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and India, but somehow, that Zimbabwe of Flower Brothers and Heath Streak doesn’t show up anymore. They get mauled in a disgraceful fashion, but still, they don’t give up. Their immense fighting spirit was evident against Sri Lanka last year, where they stunned the Islanders by beating them at their own den and then in the one-off Test match, Zimbabwe almost dished out an upset. The Lankans hung on to an absolute cliffhanger to save their face.
Even in South Africa, a few months ago, one could witness the urge to fight among the Zimbabwean cricketers. In the 3-match ODI series, their bowlers tested the Proteas batters, but perhaps, lack of enough opportunities did not inject that cutting edge and discipline in them.
Their fighting spirit was evident in the first one-day international against Bangladesh also.
On a track, which had enough carry, the Zimbabwean new-ball bowlers did utilize the conditions in the first power-play. Especially, Liton Kumar Das was finding it tough to deal with the bounce and movement of the track. In the second over, Liton was saved from being run out by a wide throw from Sean Williams. A bad miss for Zimbabwe. Then in the third over Liton pushed uppishly towards short-cover, where Sikandar Raza took a low catch.
The catch was reviewed and Liton was saved again. It was a close decision and on any other day, it could have gone in favour of the bowling side, but it was not Zimbabwe’s day. In the fifth over, Imrul Kayes flicked one in the air towards square leg where Mavuta messed it up and spilt a catch.
The hard work of Kyle Jarvis and Chatara were down and dusted.
But Liton did not stay longer. The testing line and length of Chatara let Liton play a ball on the wrong line and Zhuwao took the catch. Chatara then devoured the hyped Fazle Mahmood for a duck. Bangladesh were 17 for 2 – a familiar scenario more often these days.
Kayes and Mushfiqur Rahim led the recovery, but Mavuta took less time to break the partnership and Zimbabwean bowlers nipped out six wickets within the first 30 overs.
Saifuddin joined Kayes to do the repair work and Donald Tiripano immediately found the edge of Saif. But the third umpire thought otherwise.
Kayes punished Zimbabwe for that drop catch and went on to notch up 144 runs, while Saif took the advantage of some undisciplined bowling to give Bangladesh a respectable score.
The Zimbabwean batting needed that composure displayed in Sri Lanka to chase the total. But they lost their way in no time as the top half of the batting line-up went to the pavilion within the first 20 overs. Batsmen like Hamilton Masakadza, Sikandar Raza and Brendan Taylor have enough experience to glue the team together, but they just failed to use their feet and trust their defence under pressure.
The fightback came from the lower half of the batting line-up. Sean Williams, Peter Moor, Mavuta and Jarvis showed how it could be done. Their batting was nothing but a disciplined approach on a track, which was good for batting and had the dew factor to help them as well.
In the end Zimbabwe fell 28 runs short, but they should see the positive side of the matter – they had Bangladesh on the floor within 30 overs and tested the top order with discipline, which they lost in the end overs and while batting the lower order added 143 runs in 25 overs without losing all 10 wickets.
It was all about displaying the right attitude when it mattered the most. Had Zimbabwe been a bit more disciplined, the story might have been different.