It had to happen one day! It was the first away Test win in 17 years, the first in five years, and the Zimbabwe cricket family had every reason to invade the proverbial cloud seven after clobbering Bangladesh by 151 runs in the first Test match against the hosts at Sylhet Stadium in Dhaka this week.
For that, they have Sikandar Raza to thank. The offspinner bowled 17 overs on the trot to nip out three giant strikes as Bangladesh slipped and slid on the face of a daunting target on a tricky surface where there was enough turn to keep the spinners interested.
Even the international press could not resist heaping praise on the new heroes of the game with ESPN leading the tributes through their writer Mohammad Isam.
“The moment arrived at 1:46pm on the fourth afternoon in Sylhet. Ariful Haque swung hard at Wellington Masakadza, but suffered a fate that most Bangladesh batsmen have off late, his top edge being caught by a jubilant Regis Chakabva. Zimbabwe fought odds that were stacked against them, but won most sessions in the game with patient batting and bowling. They held their catches too, and dismantled Bangladesh for a 151-run win.
“It is only their third overseas Test win and first since November 2001, when the world of cricket was considerably different,” Isam wrote glowingly after the famous victory.
Brandon Mavuta, Raza, Kyle Jarvis and Wellington Masakadza combined brilliantly to bowl Bangladesh out for 169 in the second innings.
Mavuta was introduced late into the first session, but ended with four wickets. Mavuta’s 4 for 21 were the third best innings figures by a Zimbabwe bowler on debut.
But it was Raza who broke Bangladesh’s back by removing Imrul Kayes, Liton Das and Mahmudullah at a crucial time. Masakadza finished with two wickets while Jarvis took one.
Bangladesh had gone into the lunch session reeling on 111 for 5,having just lost captain Mahmudullah caught at square-leg attempting a sweep, and Nazmul Hossain Shanto, who timed a
rank long-hop to Raza at cover.
That were the ingredients of the famous win which will certainly inject new hope for the game which had been reeling under a heavy burden financially and on the field of play.
What followed were Twitter tributes for the Chevrons as sports personalities jostled to salute their victory in Bangladesh.
Veteran sportscaster Steve Vickers said “Congratulations to Zimbabwe! First Test cricket win in five years, first away Test win in 17 years, with a 151-run victory over Bangladesh!
”, while Jarvis observed that winning in Asia, “don’t come easy in Bangladesh.” Coach Lalchand Rajput said he was not surprised by his charges’performance against Bangladesh in the longer version of the game after falling 3-0 in the One Day Internationals (ODI) recently. “I’m not really [surprised], because if you look at the ODI series we had chances in the first ODI,” he said. “In the second two ODIs, there was a lot of dew and the toss was crucial, but still we got to 280 in the last ODI. We are not that troubled that we lost the series 3-0 as we had our chances, but we could not finish and take those chances,” he said.
The triumph will raise the stakes for Zimbabwe Cricket that has been under immense pressure after a long winless streak compounded by their failure to qualify for the World Cup when they lost by three runs to the United Arab Emirates in the qualifiers in March.
A mutiny by senior players after the World Cup qualifiers followed after the cricket governing body failed to pay their players because they were broke and it took the intervention of the International Cricket Council (ICC) for ZC to successfully negotiate the turbulence. The ICC provided the ZC with money to pay the players their salaries as well as the supporting staff. Since then, things have vastly improved with Rajput bring the sense of determination after former coach Heath Streak was fired