Zimbabwe cricket players were already popping champagne bottles well before tea after having sealed a 130-run victory over Bangladesh in the one-off Castle Test match at Harare Sports Club yesterday.
In fact, champagne was popped a few minutes after lunch for victory had well been delivered by then.
Zimbabwe had last won a Test match in 2005 against the same opponents and six years after taking a hiatus they returned with swagger to claim victory in their maiden Test on return.
Going into day five yesterday Zimbabwe were in a strong position to win this Test but by lunch anything other than a win for the hosts was highly improbable with the tourists limping at 228-8 chasing 375 for victory.
It was just a matter of when and not if, as Zimbabwe’s fast bowling quartet of Kyle Jarvis, Christopher Mpofu, Brian Vitori and Elton Chigumbura extracted good pace and movement for unsettle the Bangladesh batsmen most of whom offered little resistance, if any, to end on 244 all out.
Zimbabwe were expecting to win, but surely not in this fashion, not that easily and the fans who had planned on coming in late must have been left frustrated for almost everything happened in the morning.
Jarvis delivered the last two wickets just after lunch to spark wild celebrations both on and off the field.
Before that, debutant Vitori had got Zimbabwe going with the first wicket after Mohammed Ashraful and Mahmudullah Riyad had resumed the chase for the tourists on 19 and four respectively.
Having been defiant for 8,5 overs, Ashraful bottom-edged a Vitori delivery to the stumps to give Zimbabwe the breakthrough they sought and from there, there was no denying Brendan Taylor’s men a victory they well deserved having dominated play from day one, but not without a few minor hitches on the way.
With Ashraful’s — who scored 39 — wicket Bangladesh was reduced to 140-4 and if they had had a whiff of victory the previous day, they must have been well enveloped with that smell at that time.
8,5 overs later and 27 runs later Zimbabwe were celebrating another wicket and edging closer to the actual celebrations as Mpofu, bowling from the city end, enticed a top edge from Mahmudullah caught behind by wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu.
With just seven runs having been added and with the small crowd lucky enough to have made the right decision and come in early erupting in full voice, captain Shakib Al Hasan was walking having scored just six runs after Taylor made a good catch at second slip from a Chigumbura delivery.
The celebrations got louder and more intense with each wicket and the pressure was telling on the Bangladesh batsmen as they were to lose another wicket without any more runs having been scored when Mushfiqur Rahim’s 70-ball knock which had yielded 28 runs was put to an end by the combination of Mpofu and Craig Ervine.
Abdur Razzak had his own mini-cameo when he hit 43 off just 17 balls, but really who cared?
Victory was imminent and unavoidable. He hit Mpofu and spinner Raymond price all over the pitch cracking five fours and three sixes before he was well undone by Chigumbura who rearranged his castle behind to further fan Zimbabwe’s flame as the tourists were left reeling at 224-8.
Only lunch could delay the inevitable as the tourists went for the break at 228-8 with Shaiful Islam (7) and Robiel Hossain (4) not out.
And then after lunch, after that unnecessary delay, to be honest, victory was finally delivered. With the first ball Jarvis defeated Shaiful Islam and at that point everybody couldn’t wait and all those who had hoped to spend the day watching the game were left scurrying for ideas on where to spend their afternoon at.
After a good show by Zimbabwe’s debutants, it just had to be one of them to finish off this with Taylor giving Vitori the ball for the next over where he had the luxury of putting in six slips to deal with the tail.
It was Jarvis, however, who was to complete the victory and bag a fourth second-innings wicket when he trapped Robiul Islam when he inched in one onto the pads.
All the Zimbabwean players raised their hands to appeal and they were to remain raised for quite a while until the umpire nodded his head and raised the finger.
Jarvis finished with figures of 4-61, while Mpofu’s ten overs yielded 3-51 with Chigumbura and Vitori taking two and one wicket respectively.