A bold decision to thrust young players into the national team and invest trust in them paid dividends for Zimbabwe as they outplayed Bangladesh in the recent Castle Test cricket match played at Harare Sports Club.
Going into this match Zimbabwe would have been worried about their batting, but they knew they had more work to do in the bowling department where they had to shift from a spin-based attack, which had been their mainstay during the time of renovations in the last six years, to seam.
With relatively no seam to talk about and with impending Test return demanding they add some speed to their attack, the coaches worked on Kyle Jarvis and Brian Vitori’s raw talent and fine-tuned the then out-of- sorts former captain Elton Chigumbura’s routines as well as Chris Mpofu to match the demands of that format of the game and the results have been instant success, in a match they had to win to prove to the world that they deserved to be among the elite.
While they told the world they were looking to compete on their return, behind the scenes they had told themselves this was a winnable Test match and they were going out for the win.
The confidence of the bowling debutantes and their aggression left the tourists awe struck and clearly bamboozled with Zimbabwe bossing this Test from day one to five.
Bangladesh must be wondering up to today as to what hit them; they were surely not expecting to be facing two young unknown bowlers taking the new ball.
They would have expected to see Mpofu and possibly Chigumbura, the two quickies with some Test experience opening the bowling but Zimbabwe had a plan and it worked wonders.
Any bowler would be pleased with taking five wickets in a Test match and more so for debutantes as did Vitori and Jarvis.
Brian Vitori bowled a total of 38 overs in both innings taking five wickets and conceding 122 runs leaving him with an economy of 3,2.
On the other hand Jarvis bowled 32,3 overs taking the same number of wickets and giving away 128 runs.
With better luck Jarvis could have got more had the fielders not spilled three catches in the first innings, but in the second he was just mesmerising.
Bowling coach Heath Streak in an interview with NewsDay Sport said that everything had gone according to plan and the win could have been more emphatic had it not been of minor hitches along the way.
“The young bowlers were key to our victory we just had to trust them and we knew that they had this youthful confidence about them which was key to their success,” said Streak. “But we had worked a lot on them we knew we needed pace and we just had to show the world that we can produce quality fast bowlers with genuine pace to trouble any batsman.
“It worked to our advantage also that these guys had not seen much of Jarvis and they knew nothing about Vitori.”
Having prepared a pitch that suited Zimbabwe’s attack where they was bounce and carry, the tourists who favour wickets that turn, found it hard to adjust and were clearly undone by the hosts.
Chigumbura looking a reinvented character played his role to good effect too with the ball always taking the important wicket in each of the innings.
He rid Zimbabwe of Mohammed Ashraful, who was threatening a big score, for 73, the highest individual score for the tourists in that innings.
In the second innings he removed Abdur Razzaq who was also threatening Zimbabwe’s lead when he cracked 43 runs from just 17 balls before Chigumbura shattered his stumps adding to his earlier success on captain Shakib Al Hasan.
Chigumbura also had the best economy in the second innings at 3,3.
While their coaches and selectors would have been well pleased with the bowling department, the top order batmen must have given cricket loving Zimbabwe hope for a bright Test playing future with some top-notch performances.
In the two innings captain Taylor led from the front to score 175 runs in the two innings with Hamilton Masakadza scoring his second tone in that format of the game.
Vusa Sibanda may have blown a good opportunity for a Test century in his 78-run first innings knock, but he would be pleased that in both innings he together with Tino Mawoyo laid the platform for the middle order batsmen.
On the overall Zimbabwe will be pleased that they managed to score as much as 370 runs in the first innings and also score 291-5 declared in a Test match.
They will also see it as a big achievement that they managed to take 20 wickets with a relatively inexperienced bowling attack.