‘Minnows’, ‘under-achievers’, ‘underdogs’ – These have been a few of the terms accorded to the Zimbabwean cricket team in Tests. Having played 99 matches, they are touted as a side which is yet to truly arrive in the game’s traditional format with their recent trend adding fuel to the fire. However, a closer look at statistics reveal the fact that the African nation’s record is not as bad as it may seem especially when compared to the other countries at this stage.
On the cusp of completing 100 Tests which they will do so against Sri Lanka at Harare from Saturday, let us compare how the other teams fared after playing 99 matches. Interestingly, Zimbabwe have more Test victories from their first 99 matches than powerhouses like India and New Zealand. While the Indians and Kiwis had 10 and 7 wins respectively, they possess 11 triumphs at the same stage.
Though their win-loss ratio of 0.177 is lower than India’s 0.256, the Zimbabweans have a better record than New Zealand’s 0.152 after 99 Tests. Among all Test nations, Bangladesh’s win-loss ratio is the worst despite the fact that they have played only 94 Tests (without including the ongoing second Test against England at Mirpur).
The off-field circumstances and then prevailing situation also need to be taken into account when analyzing teams’ primitive records. Even though India was battling hard for independence from British rule during 1932-1947, those records are not categorized separately as undivided India (including present-day Pakistan and Bangladesh). However, it may not have had a significant difference on their overall statistics seeing as they played only 10 Tests during those 15 years.
India won their inaugural Test match almost five years after independence when Vinoo Mankad spun England into submission on a turning track at Madras. The victory was all the more emphatic as it came by an innings margin. On the other hand, New Zealand tasted victory for the first time following their 190-run thumping of West Indies at Auckland in March 1956.
Since debuting as a Test nation against India at Harare in October 1992, Zimbabwe registered their maiden win against Pakistan at the same venue in January 1995. When confronted with a strong lineup containing the likes of Wasim Akram, Saeed Anwar, and Inzamam-ul-Haq, they responded by inflicting an innings thrashing on the Pakistanis. The time period from mid 90s to 2001 featured quite a few memorable moments for the Zimbabweans with seven of their 11 Test victories coming during that era.
Curiously, all of their 11 Test wins have come against India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. While 6 of those were against the Bangladeshis, India have suffered two and Pakistan three defeats respectively at the hands of Zimbabwe. With Sri Lanka plagued by injuries, the upcoming series against them presents an opportunity for Zimbabwe to complete a set of victories versus all Asian teams.
In the absence of regular captain Angelo Mathews, Rangana Herath has been tasked with leadership duties. The veteran left-arm spinner will be eager to continue Sri Lanka’ total dominance over Zimbabwe as evidenced by their historical record of ten victories and five draws from 15 Tests. While the batting lineup sports an inexperienced look without Mathews as well as his deputy Dinesh Chandimal, Zimbabwe themselves are grappling for opportunities to rub shoulders with higher ranked teams.
Skipper Graeme Cremer has a tough task on his hands with both of his usual new-ball bowlers in Tendai Chatara and Tinashe Panyangara ruled out from the 2-match series. Both Tests will be played at the Harare Sports Club.
|Country||Time Span||Wins||Losses||Draws/Ties||**Win-Loss Ratio|
|Bangladesh (*On 94 Tests)||2000-2016||7||72||15||0.097|
(*As of 28th October, 2016)
(**The above table is sorted according to Win-Loss Ratio in descending order)