Zimbabwe back to cricket with triumph

After a six-year absence from Test cricket, Zimbabwe celebrate a shock victory over Bangladesh in their one-off match.

    Players enjoy a great return to Test cricket raising the Zimbabwe flag in front of fans [AFP] 

    Fast bowlers Kyle Jarvis and Brian Vitori took five wickets each on their debuts as Zimbabwe swept to a 130-run win over Bangladesh in their comeback Test on Monday.

    It was Zimbabwe's first Test victory in seven years.

    Chasing 375, Bangladesh were 244 all out in their second innings soon after lunch on the final day at Harare Sports Club, giving the Zimbabweans a successful return to the five-day game after a six-year exile following the near-collapse of the game in the troubled southern African nation.

    Zimbabwe hadn't played a Test since late 2005, and hadn't won in the format since beating Bangladesh at the same ground in February 2004.

    New captain Brendan Taylor had scores of 71 and 105 not out - his first Test century - to lay the foundation for a surprise victory for the host, who were expected to struggle on return after such a long absence.

    "That should have silenced some of our critics"

    Captain Brendan Taylor

    All 11 Zimbabwe players came together in a huddle after Robiul Islam was lbw to Jarvis in the third over of the afternoon session to seal a convincing win on the country's second start in Test cricket.

    "It was a great honour and a privilege and I couldn't have been happier to lead a great bunch of guys and work with the coaching staff we've got," Taylor, who was man of the match in his first Test as captain, said.

    "That made my job a lot easier and all the hard work the guys put in, I was very confident coming into this game.

    "I'm overwhelmed,'' he said.

    "That should have silenced some of our critics."

    Bowling brilliance

    With Bangladesh starting the last day on 112-3, Zimbabwe's fast bowlers were rampant as they removed five batsmen in the morning session.

    Abdur Razzak briefly resisted with a counterattacking 43 off 17 balls, but he was removed by Elton Chigumbura in the last over before lunch for the day's crucial breakthrough to leave Bangladesh - under coach Stuart Law - 224-8.

    Jarvis then bowled Shafiul Islam first ball after lunch and wrapped up the match with the wicket of Robiul to spark the Zimbabwean celebrations.

    "There was no way we were going to come here to just compete" 

    Zimbabwe coach Alan Butcher

    "I tried to instill a positive outlook and culture in the team," Zimbabwe's English coach, Alan Butcher, said.

    "I think people have responded well to that. There was no way we were going to come here to just compete. We thought we could win."

    Zimbabwe cricket was hit hard by a player-board fallout that forced the team to voluntarily withdraw from Tests in 2005 amid a deteriorating political and economic situation in the country. Their best cricketers left to play overseas.

    Four Zimbabweans made their debuts in this match, with former captain Tatenda Taibu, playing his 25th Test, the most experienced player in a young team.

    But left-arm seamer Vitori, just 21, had match figures of 5-122 and 22-year-old Jarvis 5-128 in their first Tests as Zimbabwe's four seamers took 18 of the 20 wickets. Chris Mpofu and Chigumbura shared eight wickets.

    Bangladesh's batsmen struggled against the pacemen in the battle of the two lowest-ranked Test countries, making 287 all out in reply to Zimbabwe's first innings 370 and then 244 after the host had declared their second innings on 291-5.

    "I thought in both innings we didn't bat well,'' skipper Shakib Al Hasan said.

    Taibu and Price of Zimbabwe celebrate as Brendan Taylor manages to hold onto a catch [AFP] 

    "The wicket was a good one to bat on. We are disappointed with our batting.

    "We thought if we batted two sessions properly (today) and we keep wickets in hand that would give us a chance but we kept on losing wickets and that cost us the game."

    Hamilton Masakadza had inspired Zimbabwe's strong start on their return, making 104 for just his second Test hundred - and first since his debut a decade ago.

    Taylor then put his team in winning position with his second-innings century - a battling 175-ball effort after the Zimbabweans had slipped to 92-4.

    It matched the century Dave Houghton made on his debut as captain in Zimbabwe's original introduction to Test cricket in 1992.

    "(I was) Happy just to get our team into a winning position and get the win... we wanted it more than Bangladesh," Taylor said.



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