Bangladesh and Zimbabwe go as far back as the 1982 ICC Trophy, when they faced each other for the first time. Zimbabwe dominated till 2004, before their team disintegrated and Bangladesh were on the upswing. ESPNcricinfo takes a look at five big moments from Bangladesh-Zimbabwe matches.
Bangladesh break the duck
Following their shocking victory over Pakistan in the 1999 World Cup, Bangladesh lost 71 out of 75 international matches – this at a time when they’d become the tenth Test-playing nation. One pounding after the other had made the World Cup win a distant memory, and that continued into their 2004 tour of Zimbabwe, where they lost the Test series 2-0.
It was in the ODI leg that they finally broke their streak. After the first two games were washed out, Bangladesh prevailed in the third, by 14 runs. And they really had to earn it. Fifties from captain Habibul Bashar, Rajin Saleh and Mohammad Ashraful hauled them to 238 for 7 in 50 overs. Mushfiqur Rahman and Mohammad Rafique then stifled Zimbabwe’s middle order, before seamer Tareq Aziz took two late wickets to end a world-record sequence of 47 ODIs without victory.
Zimbabwe won the next two games to take the series 2-1, marking the end of the golden era of Grant Flower and Heath Streak. But Bangladesh had a win against Zimbabwe at last, having lost to them since 1982. The next time the two sides would meet, in Bangladesh, Zimbabwe were an unrecognisable outfit.
The Aftab-Rafique show on BNS’ farewell
Tatenda Taibu’s Zimbabwe were very low on experience, but in the 2005 ODI series, they had actually taken a 2-0 lead. Bangladesh fought back with wins in the third and fourth matches to set up a decider at the Bangabandhu National Stadium..
A government decision to shift cricket to the Shere Bangla National Stadium, in north of Dhaka, wasn’t welcomed in the fraternity. Nonetheless, it meant this would be the BNS’ last international match.
Rafique’s left-arm spin bowled Zimbabwe out for 198 in 49 overs. Sent out to open the innings, he then shared a 150-run second-wicket stand in just 21.4 overs with fellow big-hitter Aftab Ahmed. It was by far the fastest century-stand in Bangladesh’s history. Aftab’s unbeaten 81 came off 87 balls with 10 fours and two sixes, while Rafique cracked seven fours and four sixes in his 66-ball 72.
Bangladesh said goodbye to a stadium they had shared with their footballing colleagues with a lap of honour. But even with all the nostalgia, the Aftab-Rafique show had given the fans an inkling into what they may see over the next two years.
Taylor’s Miandad moment
Undoubtedly one of the greatest matches ever witnessed at Harare Sports Club. Let’s start with the set-up: Zimbabwe had squeaked home by two wickets in the series opener, and Bangladesh bounced back to take the second match by 62 runs.
With little to separate the teams, Bangladesh were bowled out for 236 in the third ODI after being put in by captain Prosper Utseya. Bits and pieces from the top order had carried Zimbabwe to 151 for 4 in response, when Shahadat Hossain returned for a second spell and claimed the first hat-trick by a Bangladeshi bowler. The fast bowler nipped out Tafadzwa Mufambisi, Elton Chigumbura and Utseya to leave the hosts punch-drunk and tottering. Then came the fightback that wrote Brendan Taylor and Tawanda Mupariwa into Zimbabwean cricketing lore.
With ten overs to go, Zimbabwe needed 83. In the last five, they were still 51 adrift. With 17 needed from the final over, Taylor heaved Mashrafe Mortaza’s second ball over wide long-on and slapped his fourth for a one-handed boundary in the same direction. Hearts stopped when Mupariwa was dramatically run-out, and injured, off the fifth. With his mum and dad looking on, and an entire stadium holding its breath, Taylor faced up to the final ball, needing five to win in an atmosphere of pure lump-in-the-throat adrenaline. “The most important ball of his career … here it goes,” bellowed a breathless Jeremy Fredericks on TV commentary. How did it end? With a gift from Mashrafe: a full toss that Taylor dispatched over midwicket to seal a nerve-wracking win.
Zimbabwe’s second coming
On a bright, crisp August morning, Zimbabwe returned to Test cricket after six years of slugging through international cricket’s backwaters. “Back from the wilderness …” said Pommie Mbangwa as he opened coverage of the game. “A grand occasion,” added Alistair Campbell a little later at the toss.
It was Shakib Al Hasan who called correctly at the toss, but from the moment he decided to bowl on a pitch that Kepler Wessels called “an absolute beauty”, Zimbabwe took control of the game, showing that they still had currency as a Test side. Vusi Sibanda and Tino Mawoyo – on debut – started with a century stand, before Hamilton Masakadza scored his second hundred (a decade after his first), and in the second innings Taylor added a maiden ton that allowed Zimbabwe to declare and set Bangladesh 375 in four sessions.
In between times, a Zimbabwean attack fatefully dismissed as “ordinary” by Tamim Iqbal before the match, snatched a first-innings lead for their side and closed out the game on an exhilarating fifth day. There was a palpable sense of destiny being fulfilled when Kyle Jarvis’ offcutter rapped Robiul Islam’s pads to spark joyous celebrations for the 130-run win at Harare Sports Club.
Zimbabwe had won their first Test in more than seven years, with four debutants in their side and a unity of purpose in their preparation and methods. This was their Test comeback, but it also revived something not seen in Zimbabwean cricket for even longer: hope.
Desperate Bangladesh sneak through
Bangladesh were having a really bad 2014, having lost 22 out of 25 international matches. On top of that, head coach Shane Jurgensen had resigned, the BCB banned Shakib twice, and Mushfiqur Rahim lost his limited-overs captaincy.
Against this backdrop, Zimbabwe arrived in Bangladesh having also endured a woeful year, their only high having come in a three-wicket win over Australia in August.
Shakib’s six-wicket haul kept them to 240 on the first day of the first Test, before Bangladesh took a slim lead of 14 runs. Zimbabwe were bowled out for 114 in their second innings, with left-arm spinner Taijul Islam taking the first and only eight-wicket haul by a Bangladeshi.
But there were a few more twists. In the 101-run chase, Bangladesh lost their first three wickets without a run on the board, with Tamim, Shamsur Rahman and Mominul Haque getting out for ducks, a first in 62 years in Test cricket. Captain Mushfiqur kept his head for more than 90 minutes, before Taijul, the bowling hero, took Bangladesh to a three-wicket win.
Bangladesh beat Zimbabwe seven more times during the tour, and then progressed rapidly through the 2015 World Cup and into more home series wins in the next three years. Zimbabwe, meanwhile, went the other way.