Brian Vitori had an ordinary day and a large midweek crowd of perhaps three thousand had a thrilling finish as Zimbabwe, who looked ready to concede defeat in the final overs, fought back to win a narrow victory in the final over. A heroic innings of 101 by the Bangladeshi wicketkeeper, Mushfiqur Rahim, almost snatched the match from Zimbabwe's grasp, but the tail collapsed around him and his was the last wicket to fall as he attempted to win the match off his own bat at the last gasp. So Zimbabwe, with three straight wins, have clinched the five-match series.
Bangladesh made three changes for this match, dropping two unsuccessful batsmen in Mohammad Ashraful and Shahriar Nafees, and also off-spinner Abdur Razzak. Zimbabwe preferred the pace of Kyle Jarvis to the spinner Raymond Price, who has not been at his best this season. Bangladesh won the toss for the first time in the series, quite an important advantage as the first hour often favours the bowlers at Harare Sports Club. They naturally put Zimbabwe in to bat on a greenish pitch, with an unusual light cloud cover on this particular day.
Runs were hard to come by early on, with the bowlers finding some help from the pitch. Brendan Taylor again failed opening the innings, slashing a catch to slip after making 4 off 17 balls, in the seventh over. Hamilton Masakadza struggled early on, but Vusi Sibanda, oozing class, scored freely when others failed, but again he failed to make the most of a fine start, choosing the wrong ball to pull and skying a catch to mid-off. He made 27 off 36 balls, and Zimbabwe were now 39 for two in the 14th over.
Masakadza and Tatenda Taibu struggled for runs, and more than once unsuccessfully tried taking a pace or two down the pitch, but without success. Finally, from the 18th over, they decided to slog their way out of trouble. Fortunately for them, it worked, although it would not have done had Taibu not been dropped off a straightforward chance to extra cover when he had 16; this was perhaps the major turning point of the match. From then on Zimbabwe's batsmen prospered, as the bowlers quickly lost their accuracy. The hundred came up in the 27th over, and Taibu overtook Masakadza. He survived two more missed chances and reached his fifty in the 35th over, with Masakadza quickly following. The pair added 142 for the third wicket before Masakadza had a big swing and had his leg stump knocked out by Rubel Hossain for 74; he faced 100 balls and hit four fours and two sixes.
Bangladesh continued to drop catches, and it was a real surprise when Rubel Hossain pulled off a brilliant low catch at fine leg to send back Taibu for 83 (103 balls, eight fours). Zimbabwe were now well past 200, and finished with 250 for seven, thanks to a dynamic 31 off 21 balls, including two sixes, from Elton Chigumbura. This was no easy task for Bangladesh, and the odds were on Zimbabwe, especially remembering the Bangladesh batting failures in the first two matches.
The Bangladesh openers faced Brian Vitori, partnered this time by Kyle Jarvis, with more confidence than before, looking to run quick singles, and when they reached 10 they had recorded their best opening stand of the series to date. Vitori strayed on to the pads too often and after three overs Taylor replaced him with Mpofu; with Vitori out of the attack, the batsmen grew bolder. The 50 came up in the eleventh over, showing how much Zimbabwe rely on an in-form Vitori. Then without addition Imrul Kayes was trapped lbw by Prosper Utseya for 16.
Tamim Iqbal rather dried up on losing his partner. Junaid Siddiqui hit a return catch to Utseya when 12, but when Mushfiqur Rahim settled in runs began to flow again. The pair took the score to 91 in the 25th over when they took on Mpofu's arm from the deep as they sought a quick second run, and Tamim was run out for 44. The Zimbabwe fielding performance on the whole was rather patchy, with some good work like this being done, but a five was given away through an overthrow and some difficult chances were missed.
The partnership between Rahim and Shakib was vital for Bangladesh. They batted well together but slowly the required run rate rose to seven an over. Shakib, the more aggressive of the two, made 19 off 22 balls before he hit a low return catch to Utseya, a major blow in Zimbabwe's favour. The debutant Shuvagoto Hom supported him well, but Zimbabwe were now fielding superbly and the required rate slowly increased; however, the longer the partnership lasted, the greater was the chance of Bangladesh being able to make a strong finish - especially with a powerplay yet to come. At 42 overs the score was 185 for four, but then a mix-up in running saw the end of Hom, for an impressive innings of 32 off 36 balls.
Mahmadullah proved another capable partner and the two kept the required rate at about nine an over with their powerful hitting and quick running. Vitori returned, but today he was reduced to an ordinary bowler and ten came off his over. 31 were needed off the last four overs, with five wickets in hand, and the match was Bangladesh's for the taking. With his final delivery of the match Vitori took the wicket of Mahmadullah, holing out at long-on for 14 off nine balls, but his figures of one for 45 were a comedown from the heights.
Bangladesh suffered another blow when Nasir Hossain was caught second ball, but Rahim was still there. 16 needed off two overs and, in the gloom, Jarvis bowled out Islam. When Rahim got to the striker's end, though, he pulled a six over midwicket, took a single - and Jarvis yorked Rubel Hossain; 243 for nine. This brought Rahim to face the final over, from Mpofu, needing 8 for victory, amid extreme tension. He took two off the first ball to reach the century he richly deserved, and aimed to hit the next for six to end the match. But for once, vitally, he miscued, and long-on Sibanda running in took a very tense catch. Zimbabwe had kept their nerve and fought back when all looked lost in the final overs, but for Bangladesh it was a bitter pill to swallow. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 250/7 (50 overs; Taibu 83, Rubel Hossain 2/41), Bangladesh 245 (49.2 overs; Mushfiqur Rahim 101, Utseya 3/47). Zimbabwe win by 5 runs.
[Match report via ZC]
In front of a delighted crowd of several thousand people, Zimbabwe continued their remarkable winning run against Bangladesh by romping home in the second one-day international by seven wickets. Bangladesh dug their own grave with a poor batting performance by their top order, while Brian Vitori set a new cricket record with another five-wicket haul. Vusi Sibanda and Tatenda Taibu both hit fifties as Zimbabwe romped home with almost six overs to spare.
Zimbabwe again won the toss and, as in the first match, put Bangladesh in to bat, no doubt hoping for a repetition of the superb bowling that shattered the tourists' top order on that occasion. Chris Mpofu was less accurate this time, and Bangladesh scored 7 off his first over. Brian Vitori however, was generally on the spot, apart from an occasional loose ball, but most of the batsmen were even unable to take advantage of these.
Tamim Iqbal was the first batsman to go, again dismissed by Vitori after he slashed at a ball moving away outside his off stump to give a head-high catch to first slip, having made 3 out of the total of 9. Mpofu then took the wicket of Mushfiqur Rahim, skying an attempted pull to square leg. Imrul Kayes and Shahriar Nafees both fell to catches in the covers while driving, perhaps a sign of the extra bounce. Six wickets tumbled for 58 in 19 overs, and Brendan Taylor deserves credit for greater flexibility in his bowling changes, bringing on Prosper Utseya for the 11th over and seeing him take the wicket of Mahmadullah. He also brought back Vitori earlier than he would have wanted in an effort to break a troublesome stand between Shakib Al Hasan and Nasir Hossain, and he quickly trapped the captain lbw for 26. This reduced Bangladesh to 111 for seven after 35 overs.
Hossain, however, was batting with real spirit on his ODI debut, twice hooking short balls from Mpofu to the boundary, and he found an aggressive partner in Abdur Razzak. The pair added 65 together in ten overs before Hossain holed out on the long-off boundary for a fine fighting innings of 63, scored off 92 balls. The bowler was again Vitori, who now set up a new world record by taking nine wickets in his first two ODIs. However, this late stand again aroused accusations that Zimbabwe, apart from Vitori, lacked the killer instinct to finish off a side that was on the ropes.
Vitori extended his record further with a fifth wicket, knocking out Razzak's off stump as he went for the slog; his 35 had come off 32 balls. A silly run-out ended the innings with the following delivery, for a total of 188, which just exceeded their inadequate total of the first match. Vitori finished with the magnificent figures of five for 20; well as he bowled, the batsmen did not face him with any real resolution. Raymond Price was the only bowler not to take a wicket; he was reasonably restrictive but he does not appear to be in his best form right now.
Zimbabwe soon lost the wicket of Taylor, who pushed forward at a ball from Shafiul Islam outside his off stump without getting over it and was caught low at second slip for 3. Vusi Sibanda and Hamilton Masakadza came together again and played cautiously at first, but they appeared to be under no pressure. They began to push the ball around for ones and twos, and as they found their feet punctured the field with some handsome, well-placed boundaries. The fifty came up in the 11th over. As in the first match, they looked good enough to make a larger stand than actually materialised, for with the total on 87 Mahmadullah lured Masakadza down the pitch and had him stumped for 38.
Tatenda Taibu soon announced his presence by hitting a ball from Mahmadullah for a superb six over extra cover, which brought up the hundred in the 25th over, and then an even bigger, higher one over long-off. With Sibanda also batting well and completing his fifty (77 balls) with a powerful straight four, the Zimbabwe batsmen were dominating the bowling in a way the Bangladeshis never looked like doing. Rubel Hossain this time did not look like a threat with the old ball, but then the spinners Al Hasan and Nasir Hossain came on to bowl tightly and pin the batsmen down. Sibanda came down the pitch when Mohammad Ashraful was brought on, and was stumped for 67; 146 for three in the 35th over.
Craig Ervine was extremely cautious, scoring just three runs off his first 22 balls, so the scoring slowed and Taibu had to make most of the running. When he was on 46 he pulled a ball straight to deep midwicket, but the chance went down. He reached his fifty (72 balls) with a rare seven - he ran three for a delicate cut, while the good return from the deep clipped the stumps at the bowler's end and went for four overthrows. In the next over he pulled a four to win the match for his team, finishing unbeaten on 57. Zimbabwe are now two-nil up in the five-match series and it is a must win situation for Shakib and his men on Tuesday. Full scorecard below the cut.
Bangladesh 188 (47.3 overs; Nasir Hossain 63, Vitori 5/20), Zimbabwe 191/3 (44.1 overs; Sibanda 67, Mohammad Ashraful 1/26). Zimbabwe win by 7 wickets.
[Match report via ZC]
It took longer than it should have, but Zimbabwe eased to victory over Bangladesh in the first ODI in Harare, thanks largely to the bowling prowess of Brian Vitori, who became the first Zimbabwean to take a 5-wicket haul on his ODI debut. The 'ordinary' Vitori ripped through the Bangaldeshi top order, who had been put in to bat after Zimbabwe won the toss - with the first wicket of the day being Tamim Iqbal (4), who must surely now be regretting the comments he made about Zimbabwe's bowling attack. The Bangladesh innings was saved only by a 105-run partnership between Shakib Al Hasan (53) and Mushfiqur Rahim (59), who held up the middle order well and frustrated Zimbabwe's bowlers for quite some time before Shakiba finally departed at the end of the 40th over; their innings didn't last too long past that, as they were bowled out for a below-par 184, Vitori finishing with 5/30.
Zimbabwe's reply started shakily, with captain Brendan Taylor going cheaply in the 5th over, but Vusi Sibanda (96) and Hamilton Masakadza (41) knuckled down to creat the foundations for Zimbabwe's win. Masakadza's departure, a needless runout in the 23rd, started a mini-collapse as Tatenda Taibu and Craig Ervine both followed him without scoring, but Forster Mutizwa guided the side to their total, as Zimbabwe secured a 4-wicket win with over 50 balls to spare.
Zimbabwe's winning ways continue, then, and this match has the added bonus of seeing Zim move back above Ireland in the ODI rankings, and into 10th place. Full scorecard below the cut. The 2nd match in the 5-match series is a Harare Sports Club on Sunday, 14th August.
Bangladesh 184 (48.4 overs; Mushfiqur Rahim 59, Vitori 5/30), Zimbabwe 186/6 (41.2 overs; Sibanda 96, Rubel Hossain 4/26). Zimbabwe win by 4 wickets.
Before Zimbabwe and Bangladesh took to the field on Thursday, I think it's fair to say that most Zim fans would have settled for a fighting draw on their return to Test debut - a win was something that we knew was a possibility, but few dared to raise the possibility: we've had our hopes and expectations dashed so many times by a side that is so often the architect of its own demise, with batting collapse after batting collapse, that a win over five days seemed too much like wishful thinking. Even getting to day five seemed a remote chance.
But day one of the match, which saw just two wickets fall as Zimbabwe put on 264 runs, raised the first glimmer of hope - and set the cricketing press alight with positive stories of the fairytale return to Test cricket that seemed to be taking place. Opening pair Tino Mawoyo (43) and Vusi Sibanda (78) put on 102 runs for the first wicket, before Hamilton Masakadza joined the party against a Bangladeshi attack that seemed in capable of doing anything threatening - he went on to post 104, his 2nd Test ton (the last being on his Test debut against the West Indies 10 years earlier). Bangaldesh clearly did their homework overnight, though, as day two saw a fimilar batting collapse as Zimbabwe were bowled out for 370.
That saw Zimbabwe's new-look bowling attack wheeled into action, with the spin-heavy ODI attack largely replaced and new boys Kyle Jarvis and Brian Vitori - Zimbabwe's "secret weapon" brought in to provide some pace. Vitori struck early, removing Imrul Kayes in the 5th over, and the wickets flowed fairly regularly from there. Resistance was provided by Mohammad Ashraful (73) and captain Shakib Al Hasan (68), but Bangladesh only reached 287 in their reply, giving Zimbabwe a lead of 83 runs and putting them in the driving seat - although a flurry of wickets late on day three, which closed with Zimbabwe on 92/4, gave Bangladesh some much-needed momentum.
It was momentum that they weren't able to capitalise on, as Day Four saw the partnership of Taibu (59) and Taylor dig in; Taibu's was the only wicket to fall in the first two sessions of play, and that was more down to him getting carried away than any bowling flair by Bangaldesh. Together with Craig Ervine (35*), Taylor saw the side to tea, and his own debut Test century, before declaring with Zimbabwe on 291/5, a lead of 375 runs. It was a sporting declaration that Bangladesh enough of a sniff at chasing that they might be tempted to chase.
And chase they did, as Tamim Iqbal launched an early onslaught on Zimbabwe's bowlers before being bowled by Mpofu for 43. Two more wickets in the evening session saw Bangladesh close on 112/3, still in with a shout - but that shout didn't last long. The morning session of the final day saw Zimbabwe's bowlers on fire, perhaps encouraged by so disparaging remarks made the night before by Tamim Iqbal, who labelled the attack 'ordinary' and 'nothing special'. That ordinary and unspectacular attack went on to skittle the remaining Bangldeshi batsmen, needing just two and a half overs after lunch to tie up the tale. Abdur Razzak provided an entertaining cameo appearance, smashing 43 off 28 balls, including 3 consecutive sixes of an unfortunate Ray Price, but by that stage the result was already a foregone conclusion, and Zimbabwe eventually ran out winners by an impressive 130 run margin.
Let the world know: We're back. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe 370 (131 overs; Masakadza 104, Shakib Al Hasan 3/84) & 291/5d (92 overs; Taylor 105*, Safiul Islam 1/29), Bangladesh 287 (96.2 overs; Mohammad Ashraful 73, Vitori 4/66) & 244 (57.3 overs; Tamim Iqbal 43, Abdur Razak 43, Jarvis 4/61). Zimbabwe win by 130 runs.
Zimbabwe Cricket have issued the following statement regarding Tatenda Taibu's comments, made yesterday, criticising the organisation for, amongst other things, failing to pay its players. Reproduced in full.
Zimbabwe Cricket would like to express its concern and regret over the comments made by former captain Tatenda Taibu in an article on Cricinfo on Tuesday.
So many people have worked tirelessly and selflessly to rebuild cricket in this country throughout an extremely difficult, economic period and for Tatenda to claim that their collective efforts have been worthless - and that nothing has changed - is dispiriting in the extreme.
We would like to address every one of Tatenda's grievances as soon as the Test match is over - and those of any team member. In the meantime, we would like to announce that we have already started the process of improving our mechanisms for communication whereby the players will be able to speak to the administrators and express their concerns in a clear and forthright manner, and without fear of repercussion or reprisal.
We are happy to involve a third party as a players' representative and, indeed, an independent mediator. We would like Tatenda to participate in this process. And while the ICC's chief executive, Haroon Lorgat, is here to witness our return to Test cricket, we will be extending an invitation for him to talk to our players.
The timing of Tatenda's comments are unfortunate, if not a little cynical. In any other country a senior player could expect significant sanction from his board for such a public outburst. But we see little point in doing that and wish him the very best in the Test match. He is one of our finest cricketers.
Neither Tatenda nor any of the other national players have ever not been paid their monthly salary. Match fees, paid over and above salaries, have been deferred from time to time while cash-flow improves with our return to international cricket. Tatenda is in an extremely privileged position and his monthly salary places him in the top one percent of the population.
There are many thousands of people less well off than Tatenda who could be seriously harmed by his comments.
Cricket in Zimbabwe is not "dying." We are still building, but every aspect of the game, from the numbers of professional players to the interest from sponsors, shows a graph on the way up. And we are all committed to further growth and success.
We now hope to focus on an extremely exciting season ahead.
Ozias Bvute, managing director, Zimbabwe Cricket
Alistair Campbell, chairman of selectors, Zimbabwe Cricket
Cricinfo have been speaking to Tatenda Taibu on the eve of Zimbabwe's Test return on Thursday, and the former captain has used the opportunity to confirm some rumours that have been milling around for the past few months, and to take a few shots at ZC. A few "highlights":
"I don't think much has changed really, the administration is still struggling to run cricket in the country well. For example, the guys haven't been paid their match fees from August last year up to now. At the moment, I am sitting here without a contract, no one has got a contract; those are all things that the administration is struggling to deal with."
"When you walk around and you see a house that's painted well, you will think that house is really standing strong but if does not have a strong foundation, it will fall down one day or another. Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) has just painted a house that's about to fall."
He's not saying anything that those of us following the game haven't heard already, but it has to be said that the timing of his outburst is at best unfortunate. I'd recommend heading over to Cricinfo and reading the full article.
Cricinfo - Taibu slams board on eve of Test return
Zimbabwe XI came away from their 3-day warmup match against Bangladeshis with what turned out to be a comfortable 4-wicket win - but it was only on the final day that anyone found enough form with the bat to really make an impression. The first two days were marked by a steady procession of wickets as the bowlers of both sides, helped by a pitch that had been deliberately prepared to be 'lively', made the most of conditions to make life hell for the batsmen. In the first innings, only the Bangaldeshi 7th-wicket pair of Nasir Hossain & Mushfiqur Rahim showed any staying power, putting on 72, a stand that proved to be the difference between the two sides as Bangladeshis were bowled for 188, followed by a miserable 113 by Zimbabwe XI. Bangladeshis' 2nd innings fared even worse - 147 - and with Zimbabwe XI ending the 2nd day on 3/2 chasing 223, it seemed that that 72 stand would be enough to secure Bangladeshis the game.
Day three proved to be rather different from the first two, though, as several of Zimbabwe XI's batsmen finally found their grove: Sikandar Raza led the way with a patient 39, before the 6th-wicket partnership between Craig Ervine and Forster Mutizwa swung the match decidedly Zimbabwe's way. Ervine eventually fell for 42, with the score on 184/6, but Mutizwa and Malcolm Waller guided the side to a much-needed victory - all the more a statement when you consider that this was very much a Zimbabwean 2nd string, while the Bangladeshis were playing very close to their full-strength side.
Mutizwa's heroics came too late to earn him a slot in the squad for Thursday's Test match, but he surely now has put down a marker for himself. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe will go into the Test - the side's first since 2005 - with the confidence that they need to make an impression. Full scorecard below the cut.
Bangladeshis 188 (60.1 overs; Mushfiqur Rahim 64, Ncube 3/40) & 147 (47.5 overs; Shakib Al Hasan 40, Utseya 3/25), Zimbabwe XI 113 (45 overs; Ervine 21, Robiul Islam 3/33) & 225/6 (63.4 overs; Mutizwa 87*, Shakib Al Hasan 2/41). Zimbabwe XI win by 4 wickets.
Zimbabwe Cricket have named the following 13-man squad for Thursday's Test match against Bangladesh:
Brendan Taylor (captain), Regis Chakabva, Elton Chigumbura, Craig Ervine, Hamilton Masakadza, Tinotenda Mawoyo, Keegan Meth, Christopher Mpofu, Raymond Price, Vusimuzi Sibanda, Tatenda Taibu (wk), Prosper Utseya, Brian Vitori.
The honours may have been even at the end of day one, but an exceptional partnership between Aussie openers Aaron Finch and David Warner on day two put the game well beyond Zimbabwe XI's reach - the home side started day two on 250/5, but an opening blitz by Peter Siddle, who took four wickets in the session, saw the remaining men skittled for an additional 50 runs, leaving Zimbabwe all out for 300. Warner and Finch then spent the rest of the day at the crease, scoring 282 before the close of play in an exceptional stand that Zimbabwe's bowlers were unable to break.
Day three saw the pendulum swing again as Zim's bowlers, lead by Ray Price, finally got the breakthrough they needed with the wicket of Finch just 3 overs into the day. From there, the remainder of the Aussies put up little in the way of resistance, bar Warner moving on to a hugely impressive double-ton, and a 61-run partnership for the final wicket between Jason Krejza and Mitchell Starc. They finished on 498, a lead of 198 runs - and based on their performances in other matches of the series, Zimbabwe XI should have at least been able to make the Aussies bat again on day four.
It wasn't to be, though, as the old bugbear of the batting collapse raised its ugly head again to blight the Zimbabwean innings. The opening pair of Mawoyo and Sibanda fell early, for 4 and 1 respectively; Elton Chigumbura claimed an unwanted pair when caught without scoring; and only Taylor (56) and Ray Price (39) put up anything that could be considered 'resistance' with the bat, as Zim XI were bowled out for 180, handing Australia A an innings win.
A disappointing end, then, to a series in which Zimbabwe showed some promise ahead of their now-imminent Test return - and there's now only a 2-day tour match against the visiting Bangladeshis (on 1-2 August) for them to regain some form ahead of that encounter. Full scorecard below the cut.
Zimbabwe XI 300 (107 overs; Taylor 85, Siddle 4/45) & 180 (64.2 overs; Taylor 56, Marsh 2/13), Australia A 498 (137.5 overs; Warner 211, Price 4/116). Australia A win by an innings and 18 runs.
Zimbabwe XI gave a more positive performance against Australia 'A' on thefirst of the second four day match being played at Harare Sports club on Thursday. The home side was 250/5 at stumps. This is the second and final match between the two sides; Australia won the first match by seven wickets at the Country Club on Monday.
Four major changes were made in the Zimbabwean starting line-up. Captain Brendan Taylor and Raymond Price returned from injuries which ruled them out of the first match while fast bowlers Kyle Jarvis and Chris Mpofu were the other two additions. The four came in to replace Malcolm Waller, Keagan Meth, Tendai Chatara and Njabulo Ncube.
The opening pair got off to a slow start after Zimbabwe had won the toss and chosen to bat. Vusi Sibanda (33), though the major contributor in the 46 run partnership, was the first to depart after being bowled by Mitchell Starc. Tino Mawoyo was caught in the 27th over after laboring long and hard for an innings of 24 from 78 balls. By lunch Zimbabwe was 103/2 with Brendan Taylor and Hamilton Masakadza at the crease.
It was a very solid and the typical Taylor and Masakadza partnership. The pair added 96 runs for the third wicket, with Masakadza scoring a fluent 64 off 141 balls in a concrete innings which featured 11 boundaries. Captain Brendan Taylor clung on, partnering Craig Ervine (34) and looked set to finish being there at the close of play but I was not to be as Luke Butterworth trapped him leg before wicket with the new ball for 85 from 176
Butterworth struck again, this time inducing the outside edge of Craig Ervine. Regis Chakabva and night watchman Raymond Price are yet to get off the mark as the home side will be hoping to set a competitive total in their first innings. Butterworth was the pick of the Australian bowlers with figures of two for 28 in 13 overs which included seven maidens.
Play recommences at 09:30 tomorrow.
[Report courtesy ZC]