WHILE the Bangladesh team set off on a victory lap around the ground after the presentation ceremony, following their 162-run victory, a forlorn Brendan Taylor made his way towards the media centre on the other side of the ground.
He was all alone as he crossed the pitch, looking down while the stands generated noise for their stars. On the same pitch, Hamilton Masakadza had played comfortably to score more than 200 runs in the match. On the same pitch, Zimbabwe had lost their last five wickets for 14 runs to go 0-2 down in the series, and drop to the bottom of the Test rankings.
“We fought hard for four-and-half days and it’s a tough pill to swallow that we got blown away in the last hour or two,” Taylor said.
Taylor said that while Zimbabwe were not going to attempt to chase down 314, they had a real chance of drawing the Test.
Bangladesh, leading by 266 runs at the start of the fifth day, batted for 79 minutes before the declaration. That left Zimbabwe with 68 overs to survive, which, even after the delayed declaration was a difficult ask.
“On a wearing wicket, against quality spinners there was no chance we were going to go for it,” Taylor said.
“We thought if we could just break it down into small periods, bat time out, build partnerships, we could get over the line with a draw. But losing wickets in a group put us on the back foot.
“I thought maybe Bangladesh should have declared earlier but on a wearing wicket on day five, you can never be too sure.
“We were quite happy, we wanted Bangladesh to bat longer. But it proved to be a very good declaration and there was more than enough time to win the game.”
Zimbabwe were jolted early in their second innings as they lost their openers in the eight overs they had to bat before lunch.
They suffered another blow early in the second session when Taylor was caught bat-pad at backward short-leg, a near repeat of his first-innings dismissal. Masakadza and Regis Chakabva led another fightback with a 70-run stand but Chakabva was dismissed a few overs before tea.
There wasn’t much resistance after tea as Zimbabwe lost their last five wickets within 45 minutes.
“There were times when we lost wickets in a group. We lost wickets before tea intervals, after drinks, before lunch, they are crucial periods,” Taylor said.Advertisement
“So it’s always tough to rebuild from that. But Hamilton Masakadza proved it wasn’t all unplayable. He was fantastic throughout this Test. So there is a lot we can take from him.”
Taylor also praised Chakabva, who scored his maiden Test century and starred in two important partnerships with Masakadza: “He is a very gritty, determined player and you need more of them in your team.
“He got his first hundred and I am sure there will be many more to come.”
Zimbabwe had chosen a new-look spin attack after the loss in Dhaka where their spinners had been ineffective.
The pair of leg-spinner Natsai M’Shangwe and Malcolm Waller appeared to be ineffective in the first innings, but both were among wickets in the second innings, which Taylor said was a good sign.
“As the wicket became a little difficult, our legspinner found his rhythm,” he said.
“Malcolm Waller is a part-time bowler but he can be very proud of the way he bowled, picking up six wickets in the match. Our spinners are certainly not in their league.
“Our seam bowlers are the ones we look to strike, the wicket doesn’t allow us to strike, but we built pressure. We contained Bangladesh for long periods of time in the first innings.”
Despite their second-innings collapses in Mirpur and Khulna, Zimbabwe have been plucky in the series. They came close to a win in the first Test and would have sensed a draw at times in the second.
Taylor remained hopeful of a win in the future.
“We want to win. We feel we can win,” he said. “We have to go back and study where we can improve. There will be some of us due for a big performance.
“We need to be smarter and mentally stronger to bounce back from here. We are showing glimpses; the first Test was done in three days, this one late on the fifth day, so if we can iron out the few flaws, I am sure the third Test can be a lot closer.”