Match report day 3 of Zimbabwe A v Bangladeshis 14 Feb 2004
by John Ward

Scorecard:Zimbabwe A v Bangladeshis

Sunil Gavaskar recently wrote an article claiming that India were the cricket world’s worst chokers. With all due respect to a great player, he was writing out of frustration and has not perhaps had too much experience of Zimbabwe cricket. Choking has unfortunately been a tradition in Zimbabwe cricket for many years, and when Zimbabwe A failed to make the 191 they were set to beat the Bangladeshi tourists, they were only repeating a full and bitter history.


Bangladesh resumed their second innings at the start of play with a lead of 186. Douglas Hondo quickly wrapped up the Bangladeshi second innings within five overs in the morning session. The tourists lost overnight batsman Khaled Mashud (22) to the fifth ball of the morning, without addition to the overnight score of 170 for seven, as Hondo brought a ball back to beat the bat by the proverbial mile and secure an lbw decision from umpire ‘Manny’ Mhlanga.


In his next over, and still without addition, new man Alamgir Kabir tried to withdraw his bat but only succeeded in nudging the ball to the keeper, Alester Maregwede. Then in his third over he had last man Tareq Aziz (4) edging to Maregwede again, and the tourists were dismissed for 174. Hondo finished with four wickets for 29, giving him seven for 48 in the match; Gary Brent took three for 42.


Zimbabwe A therefore went out with 191 needed to win, which was as much a question of temperament as anything else. They soon gave the cynics more ammunition for their guns. They suffered a major blow with the loss of Trevor Gripper without scoring, playing down the wrong line to Tareq Aziz and edging a catch to Mashud behind the stumps – and then again waiting an inordinately long time before he could bring himself to leave the wicket. Zimbabwe A were 7 for one.


Richie Sims fell first ball, edging Aziz low into the slips. The bowler, on a hat-trick, produced a superb delivery to knock out Stuart Matsikenyeri’s middle stump – only to deprive himself of a hat-trick when umpire Mhlanga called no-ball, and save Matsikenyeri from the indignity of a pair.


Panic was clearly evident as Vusi Sibanda first tried to run himself out and then aimed a wild heave to survive an lbw appeal. He settled down, though, and the pair added 55 together. The Zimbabweans were beginning to cause the tourists considerable worry when, as so often, just when they were beginning to take an advantage, they threw it all away: Matsikenyeri (2) slashed at a ball from Alamgir Kabit outside his off stump and edged it to the keeper.


Sibanda made a generally creditable 41 before he swept at Manjarul Islam and became another victim of umpire Justice Tapfumaneyi’s finger, adjudged lbw well down the pitch with the ball spinning quite sharply. At 72 for four, the balance had swung back towards the Bangladeshis, who appealed raucously for any and everything with complete impunity from the umpires.


Wicketkeeper Mashud continued his feast at the expense of the Zimbabwe A batsmen, Douglas Marillier (4) being the next to flash and edge to him, Aziz being the bowler this time. Gavin Ewing played over his first ball from the same bowler to be bowled, and at 82 for six at lunch the Zimbabweans had put themselves out of the match.


Very shortly after the interval, Travis Friend (1) played back to Aziz to a ball that kept slightly low and played it on to his stumps. Batting was not easy with the occasional ball doing this, but the batsmen were generally disinclined to play forward as necessary and altogether too inclined to chase the wide ball.


Brent showed more fighting spirit, batting well for 17, only to have his innings cut short by a superb diving catch at mid-on by substitute fielder Mushfique Rahman off Islam; 111 for eight. Mahwire gave Maregwede good support, with the captain looking most impressive for 41, until he played back to Aziz and got a bottom edge that ricocheted on to his stumps; 133 for nine.


Hondo also showed some fight as last man in, making an unbeaten 15, and in all the last three wickets put on 75 runs – the later batsmen showing up the specialists, as is so common in Zimbabwe cricket. The match finally came to an end as Mahwire (12) drove a hard return catch to Islam with the innings total 161. Aziz took six for 46, his best return in first-class cricket, and caused a problem for the tour selectors as he had not been expected to play in the First Test. Islam took three for 44.


This was generally a well-fought match, but it was spoilt by weak and sometimes very dubious umpiring, a mediocre batting pitch, some bad player behaviour, especially by the tourists, and undistinguished batting, especially by the home side facing a reasonable target. The most impressive department of the game was the Bangladeshi bowling, and especially as the bowlers playing in this match were second-string players who are not expected to take part in the First Test.


(Article: Copyright © 2004 John Ward)