Vol. 5 Num 234 Wed. January 19, 2005  
Front Page

Tigers' maiden Test series scalp
Nafees hits composed century as hosts enforce draw

Mission accomplished. Bangladesh won their first Test series when they drew the second and final match against Zimbabwe at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.

The historic result was made possible because of a magnificent century by Nafees Iqbal, who shattered Zimbabwe's hopes of squaring the series with a flawless 121 under pressure.

The 20-year-old opener could not think of a better time to score a maiden Test hundred as the Tigers, resuming on 98-0 on the fifth and final day, eventually finished on 285-5 when play stopped five overs before the end.

Bangladesh take the series 1-0 after defeating Zimbabwe by 226 runs for their historic first-ever Test victory at Chittagong on January 10.

Needing another 276 runs on the final day, the home side, set a stiff target of 374 to win, never entertained any thought of chasing down those runs despite Nafees and his overnight opening partner Javed Omar producing a record first wicket stand of 133 runs.

The pair scored a single off the first ball of the day but waited a further half an hour to take the score past the 100-mark.

Javed Omar scored a patient 43 off 258 balls but once the experienced right-hander tried to play an attacking stroke for a change, he succeeded only to offer a tame catch at point to Brendan Taylor off leg-spinner Graeme Cremer. But by the time he was out Bangladesh had passed an important phase as the openers had seen off 83 overs.

Nafees however was not ready to leave without giving a lasting impression to the strong 15,000 crowd, who cheered every run and even a defensive shot on a gloomy wintry day.

Starting the day on 56, the Chittagong batsman and nephew of former Bangladesh captain Akram Khan completed his first hundred in style, hitting two consecutive boundaries off medium pacer Douglas Hondo and flicking the third one in the 100th over for a couple. He instantly punched his bat in the air as the Big Bowl exploded in appreciation of a batsman recognized for his talent.

Nafees, whose first fifty came in 135 balls and 207 minutes, took a further 174 deliveries and 200 minutes to record the tenth Test century by a Bangladeshi batsman.

Bangladesh had a few goose bumps when they lost three wickets in the space of 20 runs as captain Habibul Bashar (2) and Mohammad Ashraful (5) followed Javed to the dressing room in successive overs.

A surprisingly subdued Bashar trying to play defensive looked like a fish out of water and drove paceman Tinashe Panyangara to Hamilton Masakadza at mid-wicket while Ashraful edged a sharp and rising leg-break by Cremer to Dion Ebrahim at first slip.

Frustrated Zimbabwe captain Tatenda Taibu took the new ball after 113 overs and Panyangara struck in the second over after tea when he removed century maker Nafees. Having hit 18 boundaries in 355 balls, a tired shot put an end to his eight-hour knock when the opener chased a wide ball from the crease and nicked it to Taylor at first slip.

Panyangara had Aftab Ahmed caught by wicketkeeper Taibu for five to reduce the home side to 206-5 and Bangladesh, who had put themselves out of contention with ultra-defensive batting, were under pressure again.

But when the visitors sensed something was going to happen under fading lights, Rajin Saleh and Khaled Mashud closed the door with an unbroken 79-run stand for the sixth wicket.

Rajin remained unbeaten on 56, hitting nine boundaries from 140 balls in just over three hours while wicketkeeper and vice-captain Mashud was 28 not out.

Taibu, for his 85 not out and 153 in Test, was adjudged man-of-the-match while Bangladesh's 18-year-old left-arm spinner Enamul Haque won the man-of-the-series award for taking 18 wickets.

Bangladesh opener Nafees Iqbal, who steered the home side to a draw in the second and final Test against Zimbabwe, shows his exuberance after hitting his maiden ton yesterday. Bangladesh clinched the series 1-0. PHOTO: Anisur Rahman