CRICKET’S well-documented rivalry pits Australia against England and India versus Pakistan, but the International Cricket Council’s newest members, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, have come up with their own version.
start, Zimbabwe were too powerful for the Tigers and there were even questions why the ICC granted Bangladesh Test status ahead of Kenya, but the last two series between the two sides have been exciting.
Zimbabwe have always been ranked ninth on both the Test and One-Day International championship tables. When Bangladesh became the 10th Test side they were expected to provide competition to the teams just above them.
One-Day International matches between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe started with the President’s Cup tournament in Kenya in October 1987. Zimbabwe won their first clash with Bangladesh by 48 runs, before crushing their Asian opponents by a massive 192 runs while defending 284.
Then came the Merrill International Cup in Bangladesh the following year and Zimbabwe again proved too strong for their opponents, winning the opening clash by 126 runs after making 310, while the second clash was somewhat closer as Zimbabwe won by three wickets in the final over.
The first series between Zimbabwe and Bangladesh was in Zimbabwe in March/April 2001. The hosts cruised to an easy 3-0 whitewash, winning by seven wickets, 27 runs and 36 runs.
Bangladesh then hosted a reverse leg of three one-dayers in November of the same year and again Zimbabwe completed a series whitewash, winning by five wickets, 42 runs and seven wickets.
However, the last two series have produced fireworks and records.
Bangladesh in Zimbabwe
This marked the first five-match series between the two but bad weather intervened and reduced the series to the usual three matches as the opening two matches scheduled for Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo were abandoned without a ball being bowled.
It meant the series “started” at Harare Sports Club where the remaining three matches were played. Bangladesh stunned the hosts with a dramatic and historic eight-run victory, while defending a seemingly modest 237.
March 10 will always be remembered as the day Bangladesh won their first international match, in all forms of the game, since achieving Test status five years earlier.
The win also gave them a crucial 1-0 lead as bad weather again threatened to disrupt the remaining two matches while the hosts badly wanted a match to avoid an embarrassing home defeat.
Rain stayed away and the fourth game was played with the hosts under immense pressure to level the series, while Bangladesh needed another stunning result to seal a series win against all odds.
Zimbabwe dug deep and claimed an unconvincing 14-run victory, ensuring that the series would go into the final game level on 1-1.
The decider was another close affair as Zimbabwe won by three wickets in reply to Bangladesh ‘s modest 185 for 7. Having starred in the two victories for the hosts, former Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak was named man-of-the-series.
The series, no doubt, marked the start of tense battles between the two sides.
Zimbabwe in Bangladesh
It was another five-match series but this time in the subcontinent where the hosts started as favourites against a new-look and largely inexperienced Zimbabwe side.
Zimbabwe started off well and took a seemingly comfortable 2-0 lead after winning the opening two matches at Dhaka and Chittagong by 22 and 31 runs respectively. They looked certain to clinch the series given that they needed just one win in three games.
The tourists blew the first chance in the third game when they lost by 40 runs chasing 244 at Chittagong and they went back to Dhaka for the fourth game, which the hosts won by 58 runs to level the series 2-2.
From the opening four games, the trend was that the team batting first would go on to win and so the toss became very crucial in the final game.
Zimbabwe won the toss and, as expected, former captain Tatenda Taibu elected to bat. But the afternoon turned out to be a nightmare for the tourists as they struggled for meaningful partnerships. They were bundled out for 198 runs in 49 overs.
Six Zimbabwean batsmen failed to reach double figures and only the 95-run stand for the third wicket between Brendan Taylor and Barney Rogers saved them from a much lower total.
Bangladesh then went on rampage and reached the victory target with 17 overs to spare. It was a historic day for the Tigers.
It was Bangladesh ‘s first-ever one-day series triumph and it was only the second time in one-day international cricket history that a team came back from two games down to win a five-match series.
Bangladesh in Zimbabwe (July-August 2006)
That is where we are now: going to Harare Sports Club in the Zimbabwe capital for yet another five-match series between Zimbabwe and Bangladesh: the Croco Motors One-Day International series. Enjoy! — Own Correspondent.