Iqbal helps Bangladesh win first-ever Test series

Agence France Presse

Dhaka, January 18:

Bangladesh clinched their first ever Test series victory 1-0 as Nafis Iqbal hit a maiden century to earn a draw with Zimbabwe. Bangladesh, one-up after their first and only Test win at Chittagong, batted slowly after being set an improbable 374-run target to reach 285-5 at stumps on the fifth and final day.

Iqbal scored a patient 121 off 355 balls with 18 fours to emerge Bangladesh’s hero on the final day. He was involved in a 133-run stand with Javed Omar (43), Bangladesh’s only century-plus stand for the opening wicket. “We did think of victory, but thought a draw was a better option as we had won the first Test,” said Bangladeshi skipper Habibul Bashar. “If we had not lost a couple of wickets in the second session we could have tried to go for the victory. We always knew we could draw the game even though the pitch was not easy to bat on the fifth day.”

Only the West Indies, India and Australia have scored more than 374 runs in the fourth innings to win a Test match. Zimbabwe, playing their first Test series after being banned in June by the ICC, set nerves jangling when they reduced the hosts to 206-5 with 26 overs remaining. Tinashe Panyangara struck with the second new ball in the closing session when he dismissed Iqbal and Aftab Ahmed in his three overs. But Rajin Saleh and Khaled Mashud then batted steadily in fading light to ensure a creditable draw with an unfinished 79-run stand for the sixth wicket.

Saleh was unbeaten on 56 with Mashud (28) when bad light stopped play five overs before the scheduled close. Bangladesh batted to save rather than win the match right from the beginning as they scored less than two runs an over in the first two sessions.

Bangladesh’s hopes of stepping up the run-rate were dashed in the afternoon session when they lost stroke-makers Habibul Bashar (two) and Mohammad Ashraful (three) in the space of just five runs. Panyangara bagged three wickets and Cremer two for Zimbabwe, who will now play five one-dayers against the hosts.