Zimbabwe took a 1-0 lead in the two-match series after their first Test win in five years. © AFP
Zimbabwe head coach Lalchand Rajput believes that their historic win over Bangladesh in the opener of the two-match Test series can be considered as a new dawn for them, with his side picking up only their second overseas win in 17 years after having beaten Bangladesh in 2001. It was also Zimbabwe’s first win in five years, having last beaten Pakistan in Harare in 2013, losing 11 matches since, and drawing one.
Bangladesh, who needed 295 to win after ending Day 3 on 26/0, were bowled out for 169 on the fourth day, giving the visitors a 151-run win and a 1-0 lead.
“Even big Test playing countries come here and struggle to beat Bangladesh in Bangladesh,” an elated Rajput said on Tuesday (November 6). “It’s a huge win for us, psychologically, mentally. “This will definitely revive Zimbabwean cricket. We have started believing that we can’t only win at home, we can win abroad as well. This is the first step and we need to kick on from here. The way that we came back after the ODI series 3-0 whitewash, we were really prepared for it. I’m happy that the boys have done justice to their talent. It’s a great day for us,” he said.
“Teams around the world will know that Zimbabwe is getting back to the team they were earlier. If you look at Zimbabwean cricket in the 90s, they had a fantastic team. This win will definitely revive that, bring the confidence of players, and I think it’s a great thing for the Zimbabwe board, because the board has really persisted with these players. They have been patient, and now the day has come. I’m sure everyone back home, the Zimbabwe board, the public and the whole country will be proud of this,” he added.
Rajput said that the difference between the two teams, that separated them, was their hunger and character. “The mental aspect [was the difference] because the way we batted in the first two days, that really showed the character of the players. From the first day the wicket was turning, it was slow, and batsmen were a little worried about whether the match would last four or five days. So I just said keep calm, you’ve got to trust your defence, and basically it’s important that you show temperament and character. And our players have really shown that,” said Rajput.
“We were hungry to win. We wanted really badly to win the match because we had been losing in previous games. That was a key area, because if you’re hungry for success, you’ll do well,” he said.
Rajput also heaped praise on debutant 21-year-old legspinner Brandon Mavuta, who he believes did justice to his talent while the spinners stuck to their plans to help them come out on top. While Mavuta finished with figures of 4 for 21 in ten overs, Sikandar Raza had 3 for 41.
“‘Mavuta did exceptionally well in South Africa, but he didn’t have a good series here in the one-dayers. But I knew that as a legspinner he’s a match-winner. The only message was that he has to bowl his normal spin and not try to flight the ball too much,” said Rajput. “On a fourth day wicket, you just have to put it on the right area. Our bowlers tried to put a little more effort into the ball, because if you try to bowl slow the batsmen could come onto the back foot and play slowly, so the more variation in the pace, from 85 to 90kmh, was the key. And just be patient. Test cricket is all about patience. You’ve got to get through those critical moments, you’ve got to get through those sessions, and they responded really well,” he added.
“Over the years, Zimbabwe have not been doing well in Test cricket, they’ve had their problems. But when you win, all these problems are pushed aside. The win was very important for us. Even for the team, because when you taste that win it’s a different feeling in the dressing room as well. This win will go a long way, and I’m sure the players’ confidence, the team’s confidence is really up now. And it we really look forward to it going up and up only from now onwards,” he concluded.