Taylor stars as Zimbabwe win their comeback Test

Posted by brmtaylor.com admin on August 08, 2011

Newly appointed national team captain Brendan Taylor starred as Zimbabwe powered to a 130 run victory against Bangladesh on the fifth and final day of the Castle Test match at Harare Sports Club. The victory marks a successful comeback to Test cricket, a format Zimbabwe have not participated in since a self-imposed exile in 2005.

Bangladesh won the toss and chose to bowl first. Zimbabwe amassed 370 first innings runs after being 2/264 at the close of play on day 1. Hamilton Masakadza scored 104, his first Test century since 2001. Vusi Sibanda and Taylor both made significant contributions with 78 and 71 respectively.

In reply, Bangladesh were stunned by the accuracy of first gamers Brian Vitori and Kyle Jarvis after their seamers extracted little from the pitch. The left armer Vitori was most damaging, taking the wickets of both openers and ending with 4/66. Jarvis bowled well but was unlucky, with several chances being put down as well as an LBW appeal turned down which would have gone on to hit middle stump.

All of the Zimbabwean bowlers took wickets, with Chris Mpofu and Ray Price taking 2 apiece. Elton Chigumbura and Jarvis each got 1.

With an 83 run first innings lead, Zimbabwe's openers batted with freedom after tea on day 3 - the highlight being Vusi Sibanda's six over the bowlers head.

However, Bangladesh took quick wickets to ensure that they were still in the match. Bangladeshi seamers Robiul Islam and Robel Hossain took care of the openers, while Shakib al Hasan removed Hamilton Masakadza for 5. Ray Price was sent in as nightwatchman but he too was sent packing after being adjudged LBW to Abdur Razzak. At stumps on day 3, Zimbabwe were 4/92 with a 175 run lead - crucially, Brendan Taylor was still at the crease on an unbeaten 5 with Tatenda Taibu on 0.

The morning session of day 4 was all Zimbabwe's as they went through unscathed. Taibu departed after lunch for 59 while Taylor plugged away with Craig Ervine. Shortly before tea, Taylor struck his maiden Test century and in the process became only the 29th player in Test history to score a century on their captaincy debut and the 2nd Zimbabwean after Dave Houghton in 1992.

Taylor caught everybody by surprised when he declared at tea with a lead of 370. He ended his innings on 105 not out while Ervine remained unbeaten on 35. By the end of the match, Taylor had increased his Test average by 7 runs from 21 to over 28.

Taylor's early declaration was looking to be a questionable decision when Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes got on top of Brian Vitori early in the run chase. However the attack leader, Chris Mpofu, made the breakthrough with a ripping delivery which seamed in from well outside off stump and took the bails of middle and leg leaving Tamim perplexed.

Kyle Jarvis was looking sublime towards the end of day 4 as he consistently beat the outside edge. He finally got reward for effort when Imrul Kayes was caught behind. He clean bowled Nafees, leaving Bangladesh on 3/112 at stumps.

With the game still in dispute, Zimbabwe required early wickets on day 5 to vindicate Taylor's decision to declare so early. His seam attack did not let him down though, Vitori got through Mohammed Ashraful's defences early on and from their the Bangladesh middle order collapsed. Despite a late onslaught by Abdur Razzak, Mpofu and Chigumbura combined to take the next 4 wickets, leaving Zimbabwe requiring 2 wickets for victory at lunch.

Returning from the lunch break, Kyle Jarvis needed just 1 ball to finish Shafiul Islam's innings. 2 overs later he struck the pads of Robiul Islam to bring Zimbabwe to their first test victory since 2004.

A jubilant Zimbabwe team took a lap of honour around the ground draped in the Zimbabwean flag, before accepting their medals at the post match ceremony. Brendan Taylor won the man of the match award for his 71 and 105*, the third highest match aggregate for a Zimbabwean captain.