Zimbabwe still under fire

HARARE - If Zimbabwe were hoping to find some sort of respite after the 3-0 drubbing in the Test series, there hopes were severely dented when they went down to the Bangladesh XI team in a one-day warm-up match.

It was another sound thrashing, this time by 88 runs, just two days before the first ODI in Chittagong today.

Bangladesh has never been a happy hunting ground for the men in red, in six previous series going as far back as November 2001. Up to November/December of 2010 Zimbabwe have only managed one series win over the Tigers, which was back in 2001, when a Brian Murphy led team inflicted a 3-0 whitewash against Bangladesh.

But that was the first, and up to now the last time that the home side would suffer such indignation, as they rapidly turned the tables with win after win against a depleted Zimbabwean team.

The frustrating thing is that on most occasions, Zimbabwe were able to go 1-0 up in a series before the Tigers roared into life to devour the Chevrons in emphatic stile.

In January 2005, Zimbabwe won the first two ODIs in the customary five match ODI series, and in truth it looked as if Bangladesh were never going to be in it, but the home side rallied and won series 3-2.

Zimbabwe toured Bangladesh the following year, only to receive a 5-0 thrashing, despite some good individual performances.

January 2009 was the next trip to Bangladesh, and despite a good win against the Tigers in a triangular series which also included Sri Lanka, and another narrow two-wicket win in a three match series after the triangular series, the home side yet again stamped their authority in the remaining two matches.

Bangladesh was like a second home for Zimbabwe, because October 2009 Prosper Utseya and his men once again embarked on a mission to tame the Tigers, and once again drew first blood when Elton Chigumbura and Kyle Jarvis ripped into the Bangladeshi middle order to bowl the home side out cheaply.

Despite a shaky start, Chigumbura then smashed the bowling to all corners of Dhaka and got himself a man-of-the-match award in the process as Zimbabwe went 1-0 up with four to play.

I was fortunate enough to be traveling with the team as a commentator and reporter, and I remember the excitement amongst myself, Dirk Viljoen and Alistair Campbell as we threaded our way through the Dhaka traffic back to our hotel.

We were like naughty schoolboys who thought they had got away with some sort of mischief, laughing happily and talking about team composure and finally turning the corner.

The Jameson whiskies went down as smoothly and as effortlessly as a Jacques Kallis cover drive, and it went without saying that Messers Campbell, Viljoen and du Plessis were in a bullish and boisterous mood when they entered the air conditioned commentary box two days later.

But from there on in, it was downhill, and our moods of hope and joy evaporated like mist before a blazing Dhaka sun as Zimbabwe went down 4-1.

Zimbabwe's last tour to Bangladesh, other than the T20 World Cup was in November/December 2010 where they lost the five match series 3-1 with one no result due to rain.

So what has changed almost three years later? Nothing much to be honest.

The batsmen still struggle to play the Bangladeshi left-arm spinners, despite a considerable amount of preparation that was done before the team left for Bangladesh.

Players such as Hamilton Masakadza and Brendan Taylor have spent a number of seasons playing in the various domestic competitions in Bangladesh, and even their vast experience of the Bangladeshi conditions has done nothing to the team.

Taylor in particular must be feeling the pressure, knowing that coach Stephen Mangongo and chairman of selectors Givemore Markone are breathing down his neck, and rubbing their grubby little hands together in anticipation to give Taylor the chop.

A few debutants, PJ Moor, an exciting but inconsistent middle order batsman, and the very hard hitting allrounder Solomon Mire, who plays his cricket in Australia, have been added to the group.

Neville Madziva, who made his debut against South Africa in September, will probably be used as a new ball bowler, while Timycen Maruma gets another go in the middle order.

Zimbabwe may feel that they will be on equal ground in the one day arena, but Bangladesh do have home advantage, and a huge psychological hold over Elton Chigumbura and his charges.

The visitors will be fortunate to salvage a win in the upcoming five one day internationals.

Anything more than a single win would be a bonus, and a confidence boost.

Comments (1)

Good luck, Zim. Be patient, but you also need to play more aggressive and with more self-confidence. How much is done to develop young (school boys) players in Zim?

Karel Botha - 24 November 2014

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