|Scorecard:||Zimbabwe A v Bangladesh A|
DateLine: 22nd February 2005
Overnight: Bangladesh A 254; Zimbabwe A 57/3 off 20 overs (Duffin 22*, Cremer 0*)
Lunch: Zimbabwe A 188; Bangladesh A (2) 6/0 off 1 over (Ahmed 1*, Hassan 3*)
Tea: Bangladesh A (2) 96/3 off 30 overs (Imran 28*, Wasseluddin 17*)
Close: Bangladesh A (2) 209/5 off 61 overs (Riyad 37*, Ghosh 19*)
Bangladesh A enjoyed an impressive second day at Queens Sports Club, playing themselves into a strong position by the close, when they were 275 runs ahead with five second-innings wickets still in hand. The leading figure of the day was their latest Test star, Enamul Haque junior, who took seven cheap wickets, although helped by some poor Zimbabwe batting and perhaps a couple of umpiring controversies.
Zimbabwe A began the second day slowly, from their overnight score of 57 for three, consolidation obviously being the plan. Runs came by ones and twos, 24 being scored in the first 40 minutes of play before Enamul Haque came on to bowl and broke through in his first over. Night-watchman Graeme Cremer, propping half-forward, was adjudged lbw by umpire Russell Tiffin for 6, making the score 81 for four. The opening batsman Terry Duffin was still at the other end, looking as solid as a rock.
This brought in Greg Strydom, a powerful hitter with a first-class average of almost 50, to play his overdue first first-class match for a Zimbabwe A side. Clearly this stocky 20-year-old, who hit 16 sixes in a first-class Logan Cup match against Manicaland last season, will not be able to adopt such cavalier methods against top international bowlers, but with such a record he surely merited opportunities earlier. Bulawayo people will argue that if he played in Harare he surely would have; but also his reputation for being a difficult customer has held him back.
Strydom got off the mark with a powerful drive off the back foot through extra cover for four, off opening bowler Shahadat Hossain. In the next over he hammered Haque straight for another boundary and an intriguing battle was in prospect. But Haque gave him nothing more to hit, and three overs later Strydom lost patience. He went for a big hit, but only succeeded in drilling a catch straight to mid-off. He scored 8, and Zimbabwe A were sliding into trouble at 99 for five.
The slide continued unabated, as Craig Ervine got off the mark, but then tried, too late, to shoulder arms to a lifting ball from Rasel, that flicked his glove and presented wicketkeeper Dhiman Ghosh with a simple catch. 102 for six, last man 2.
Tafadzwa Mufambisi was with Duffin when he reached his fifty; it took him 139 balls and was a thoroughly sound traditional innings from an opening batsman. Mufambisi, though, fell in the same over; he shouldered arms to Haque’s arm ball, which came back just enough to clip the stumps and the bail fell off half a second later. The fielders knew what had happened, but the umpires appeared to be understandably unsighted, as neither raised a finger; Mufambisi, to his credit, realised he was out and walked. He made 9, and Zimbabwe A were 117 for seven.
Blessing Mahwire at last provided the reliable partner that Duffin needed, although even he had a little luck at times, and a partnership began to develop, with sound batting on both sides. But Haque was always extremely testing, and he finally broke through with the critical wicket of Duffin for 65. The opener pushed forward to be hit on the foot apparently outside the off stump, and the ball carried to slip; umpire Tiffin raised his finger and a gallant innings came to a rather mysterious end, as, for the third time in four sessions of play, the official mode of dismissal was unclear. It later transpired that the decision was lbw. It left Zimbabwe A apparently almost dead and buried at 146 for eight.
Mahwire now began to bat more aggressively, while new man Campbell Macmillan got off the mark by swinging Haque to the midwicket boundary, the stroke almost carrying for six. The long handle seemed to pay dividends, especially against Mohammad Sharif at the other end, and for the first time in the team’s innings the scoreboard operators were kept fully active. Macmillan tried again, and this time hit Haque clear over the long-on boundary for six. They added 41 in less than eight overs, with Mahwire specializing in boundaries, before he drove at Haque and was bowled for a valuable 35; 187 for nine.
Last man Ian Nicolson had time to get off the mark with a single before Macmillan, stretching forward to Haque, was given out lbw by Tiffin, a decision that made him bow his head in despair, whether genuine or feigned. Whatever the merits of the decisions in the Zimbabwe A innings, it was clear that the players had lost confidence in the umpires. The Bangladeshi, in the fashion common among Asian teams, appealed vociferously for everything, however ridiculous, and the home side felt the umpires were unduly influenced by this.
The innings closed on 188, a deficit of 66. Haque took seven for 47, a fine spell of bowling up to a point, but basically flattering. He got little turn, attempted little flight and simply bowled quite flat but with great accuracy. The batsmen were over-eager to hit him across the line and, some would say, the umpire over-eager to accommodate excessive appealing. The next-best figures were two for 60 by Hossain.
Bangladesh went in to bat again and the umpires changed ends before lunch on the second day. The pitch it itself was not a major factor in this batting failure, despite its appearance, but it clearly sowed seeds of doubt in the minds of the batsmen, and the situation was exacerbated by some controversial umpiring. But on the whole the batsmen, with the honourable exception of Duffin, had only themselves to blame.
Bangladesh began their second innings as though they were 200 ahead, with a flurry of attacking strokes. They lost their captain, Nafees Ahmed, shortly after lunch. He lofted Macmillan over midwicket for four and was then given out lbw for 5 by umpire Tiffin, although the ball appeared to be going down the leg side; 13 for one.
At the other end Hassan, the century-maker of the first innings, looked far from secure as he tried to attack, and edged two fours off Nicolson. Nicolson conceded 22 off his opening three overs and was replaced by Mahwire, who went for 12 off his first; at the other end, though, Macmillan was bowling much more effectively. When Hassan had to face him he was much less certain, and with 25 to his account he flirted with a ball just outside off stump and edged an easy catch to Mufambisi, the wicketkeeper; 45 for two.
Mahwire soon struck when Macmillan was rested, as Shamsu Rahman, playing back without getting across, edged the ball into the slips where Dion Ebrahim completed the catch; 48 for three. Five runs later there was almost another wicket, as Tushar Imran edged the medium-pacer Greg Strydom to the keeper – only for umpire Manny Mhlanga to call no-ball. The batsmen did not hear the call and was walking off without looking at the umpire before he was called back.
Bangladesh A now cooled down and decided the need was to consolidate before they completely wasted their advantage. Imran and Wasseluddin did the job well, keeping the score ticking over without any histrionics, and the game went through a quiet period until tea. Immediately after the interval the batsmen showed signs of wanting to attack, but in the very first over Imran (on 32) lofted a drive and Vusi Sibanda at short extra cover missed the chance.
The score moved past 100 and a large partnership was threatening. It was, rather unexpectedly, change bowler Greg Strydom who broke it, hitting Wasseluddin, moving across his stumps, low down with a yorker and winning an impassioned lbw appeal from umpire Mhlanga. Wasseluddin made 48 and Bangladesh A were 136 for four, after a partnership of 88.
Imran passed his fifty but failed to cash in. On 55, he mistimed a pull off Mahwire and hit a low catch straight to Ervine at midwicket; 159 for five, a lead of 225.
Ebrahim thought he had caught new batsman Dhiman Ghosh at slip when the latter had 5, but the umpire ruled that the ball had come off the pad or boot. Ebrahim threw the ball to the ground in a mild rather than blatant display of petulance, but this was an act that would have hit his pocket in a full international match. As this is only an A team match, without a match referee, he is likely to get away with it.
Ghosh survived with Mahmud Ullah Riyad until the close, when they had 19 and 37 respectively. Bangladesh were 209 for five, a lead of 275 and, given the paucity of the home side’s batting in the first innings, look almost certain to win, as the hot, sunny weather shows no signs of changing.
There was a bit of confusion before the start as the wrong sized balls had been sent down from Harare, and the local association had to dig into its stocks to find the correct type. But play managed to start on time, with spectators numbering single figures due to the lack of advertising locally. But later in the day the numbers would approach 100.
The left-handed captain, Nafees Ahmed, got the score moving with the second ball as he turned Blessing Mahwire backward of square leg for a single. An edge by his partner Roqibul Hassan through the slips that only ran for two instead of reaching the boundary showed that the outfield was pretty slow too. The early indications were that it could well be a low-scoring match.
The openers seemed to find little difficulty in the pitch or the bowled, though, as they moved the score on steadily with well-placed ones and twos. The pacy but erratic Ian Nicolson bowled opposite Mahwire, straying too frequently down leg side in a manner that would have cost him dearly in one-day cricket, and Nafees glanced him for the first two boundaries of the innings in the sixth over.
Campbell Macmillan, who has played little cricket beyond club level, and that occasionally, for the last two seasons due to injury replaced him, and showed that he has not lost his ability to pitch the ball too short. Mahwire did cause the batsmen concern at times with his lift and the occasional yorker, and it is to be hoped there are no further concerns about his bowling action.
Unbelievably, the first appeal of the day took 45 minutes to arrive; Ahmed tried to hook a bouncer from Mahwire but umpire Manny Mhlanga, probably correctly, ruled that the ball had come off the arm rather than bat or glove on its way through to the keeper. Ahmed did most of the scoring, but Hassan did his part, and played a magnificent cover drive for four off the back foot, off Macmillan.
The fifty came up in less than an hour. Hassan had 29 when he slashed Nicolson through the slips for four, with third slip unable to do more than get a hand to what would have been a brilliant catch. But in the same over the brilliant catch did occur, with Ahmed the victim. He edged Macmillan low, for Vusi Sibanda at second slip to dive to his right and grasp the chance at ankle-height. He made 27, having been overtaken by Hassan, and Bangladesh A were 63 for one.
New man Shamsu Rahman showed aggression right from the start, and scored 8 runs off 9 balls before he tried to shoulder arms to a rising ball from Macmillan, but only succeeded in gloving it to the wicketkeeper, Tafadzwa Mufambisi. Bangladesh A were 83 for two.
Hassan reached his fifty with a classic drive through extra cover for four off Macmillan, while Test player Tushar Imran batted steadily at the other end. All the seamers had a stint from both ends before lunch, before Graeme Cremer was brought on to bowl his leg-spinners. Then Mahwire, changing ends again, broke through with a length ball that shot through low before he could get his bat down and had him adjudged lbw, after a Bucknor-esque delay, by umpire Mhlanga for 14; 123 for three.
On the stroke of lunch, Hassan, who had hitherto used his feet well against Cremer, leapt down the pitch, yorked himself, but escaped being stumped as the ball rebounded off the pads of wicketkeeper Mufambisi. After the interval Macmillan bowled really well and gave new batsman Wasseluddin a torrid team, beating the bat time and again, though a slightly fuller length might well have found the edge of the bat.
At the other end Nicolson could not maintain the pressure at first and bowled a spate of no-balls. But he gradually settled, and then claimed the wicket of the struggling Wasseluddin, who aimed a half-hearted slash at a short ball too close to him and edged a catch that the keepr took smartly over his head. He made 2 off 29 balls; 153 for four.
Hassan, 79 at this point, now went right into his shell for a while before regaining his touch and confidence and moving smartly onward towards his century. Finally a sweep off Cremer to very fine leg brought him the final two runs needed to reach three figures. That landmark seemed to cost him his concentration and in the next over he edged Mahwire low to second slip, where Sibanda took another good catch. He made exactly 100 in an excellent innings; 198 for five. It was later reported that Hassan was born in 1989 and is therefore just 15 years old.
The bowlers were now on fire and on top, while the batsmen struggled. Ebrahim kept an admirably attacking field; even to Hassan on 100, he had four slips. Dhiman Ghosh scored just a single before he lost his off stump to Mahwire; 207 for six.
The in batsman, Mahmud Ullah Riyad, was not prepared to settle for being dominated and kept the runs coming. On the stroke of tea Mohammad Sharif, who had first visited Zimbabwe in 2001 to play Test cricket at the age of 15, drove Cremer straight to Macmillan at mid-on and departed for 5; 231 for seven. The home side was steadily gaining control.
After tea, new man Syed Rasel had not scored when he lashed out at a short ball from Cremer and slip dropped a sharp chance that came right at his chest. He then concentrated on hanging in there while Riyad reached his enterprising fifty off 61 balls. But when he had 55 Riyad tried unsuccessfully to withdraw his bat from a short ball from Macmillan and edged a catch to the keeper; 247 for eight.
Next to go was Rasel (3), who dabbed at a ball from Macmillan outside the off stump and was caught by Craig Ervine at the third of four slip and gully fielders; 252 for nine. Finally the innings closed as Enamul Haque (0) edged Macmillan for Sibanda to pick up his third catch of the innings. Shahadat Hossain was unbeaten on 6; the innings total a rather disappointing 254.
Macmillan took the best bowling figures of four for 63, while Mahwire had three for 48 and Nicolson was perhaps fortunate with two wickets while conceding 80 runs off just 14 overs. Cremer did a useful job with one for 47 off 15.
Zimbabwe A began their reply with 25 overs due to be bowled before the close of play, but their rather dismal over rate threatened to make this a day-night match. The Bangladeshi opening bowlers were soon supporting the Zimbabwe total with a spate of no-balls, and Sibanda drove Hossain handsomely through the covers to the boundary. But in the sixth over he was bowled by Hossain, a ball that just clipped the stumps, and Zimbabwe A were 18 for one. Two balls later and without addition, the new man Ebrahim groped at a ball outside the off stump and edged a catch to the keeper, Ghosh.
Duffin responded with a superb cover drive for four off Rasel, but otherwise the batsmen struggled for runs. Kuda Samunderu began nervously, but then placed Hossain through midwicket to the boundary, a sweetly timed stroke. Before long the day’s play was going into overtime, but fortunately the sun was shining brightly. Gradually the batsmen began to get the score moving again, mostly with well-placed ones and twos.
Haque came on to bowl, testing the batsmen. He beat Samunderu and rapped him on the pad with a ball that appeared to pop, and perhaps the batsman was unlucky that umpire Russell Tiffin raised his finger and gave him out lbw. Certainly the batsman left the arena very slowly and reluctantly. He made 15 and Zimbabwe A were 55 for three.
Ebrahim decided it was time for a night-watchman, and Cremer took his place, almost half an hour after the scheduled close of play with seven overs still to be bowled. Only two more were possible before the shadows began to cross the pitch and the batsmen accepted the offer to leave the field. Duffin was still there at the end with a well-played and responsible 22. The big question is whether he can, for once, turn this excellent start into a really big innings.
(Article: Copyright © 2005 John Ward)
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