Despite being a Test playing nation since 1992 they have struggled to become a force to be reckoned with, mainly due to the country experiencing economic and political turmoil that has affected the manner in which the sport is governed.
They were even suspended from playing Tests by governing body Zimbabwe Cricket in 2005 at the behest of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and only made a return to the format in 2011.
Their win against Bangladesh in the first Test of the two-match series was only their third win away from home and also the third match they have won since their reintroduction to Test cricket.
The number of notches in Zimbabwe’s win column in Tests might is not the highest but they have emerged on the winning side in some truly memorable matches. Here are five such encounters.
Zimbabwe vs. Pakistan at Harare, 1995 - Zim won by an innings and 64 runs
A team’s first win will always be fondly cherished by fans, but the dominant manner in which Zimbabwe beat Pakistan in 1995 would have made it a memorable one regardless.
Zimbabwe’s early performances in Test cricket were nothing to write home about, leading to some talk about whether ICC had granted them Test status in haste. Nevertheless, they showed what they were capable of in the first match of a three-Test series against Pakistan.
Winning the toss and choosing to bat first, Zimbabwe rode on a double century from Grant Flower (201*) and tons from Guy Whittall (113*) and Andy Flower (156) to post a mammoth total of 544/4d.
In reply, Pakistan could only muster 322 and Zimbabwe duly enforced the follow-on. The visitors fared even worse in the second innings and were bundled for 158, handing Zimbabwe their maiden Test win.
Zimbabwe vs. India at Harare, 1998 - Zim won by 61 runs
Zimbabwe lost 5 of the 9 Test matches they played in 1998 but the two matches they won that year are of significant importance to the side’s cricket history. The first of those wins came against India in a one-off Test.
The visitors won the toss and elected to field first, a decision that was seemingly vindicated as they dismissed Zimbabwe for 221 and eventually ended the first innings with a slender 59-run lead.
However, the home side put on a better show with the bat in the second half and India had to chase down 235 runs to win the game.
They started poorly when they lost both Nayan Mongia and Navjot Singh Sindhu for nought. This put pressure on the middle order which eventually crumbled, handing Zimbabwe a 61-run victory.
Pakistan vs. Zimbabwe at Peshawar, 1998 - Zim won by seven wickets
Having beaten India in the one-off Test at home, Zimbabwe then visited Pakistan for a three-match series and started the tour with a historic win that eventually led to a maiden series win away from home.
Zimbabwe put the hosts in to bat first and would have been reasonably pleased to get them all out for 296. Heath Streak took four wickets and was ably supported by Henry Olonga and Mpumelelo Mbangwa.
However, Wasim Akram (5/52) and Waqar Younis (4/78) showed their class as they ripped through Zimbabwe’s batting line-up to ensure Pakistan entered the second innings with a slender lead.
But the visitors were not done yet. Streak, Olonga and Mbangwa would combine to devastating effect once again in the second innings as Pakistan could only muster up a score of 103.
Zimbabwe got to the required target of 163 without too much fuss, a win that was enough to seal the series.
Zimbabwe vs. Bangladesh at Harare, 2011 - Zim won by 130 runs
As mentioned earlier, Zimbabwe had not played a Test match since their 2005 suspension. Their last Test match for nearly 6 years saw them lose by 10 wickets to India at Harare.
Their return to the Test arena also took place at the same venue in a one-off Test against Bangladesh. Put in to bat first, the hosts notched up 370 thanks to a century from Hamilton Masakadza (104) and half-centuries from Brendan Taylor and Vusimuzi Sibanda.
In reply, Bangladesh could only get to 287 before they were dismissed, despite three of their batsmen scoring half-centuries.
The second innings once again saw Taylor get among the runs for the hosts as his century helped them get to 291 after which they declared, leaving Bangladesh to chase 375 runs to win the match.
That target was always going to be too much and so it proved; Bangladesh could only get to 244 before being dismissed and Zimbabwe marked their return to Test cricket with a win.
Zimbabwe vs. Pakistan at Harare, 2013 - Zim Won by 24 runs
Zimbabwe’s last win before they beat Bangladesh at Sylhet was also memorable for two reasons: it was their first win against a team other than Bangladesh for 12 years and it also came against a Pakistan team that was fourth in the ICC rankings at the time.
The match didn’t begin too well for Zimbabwe as the Pakistan bowling unit – led by Junaid Khan’s 4/67 – restricted the hosts to 294 in the first innings.
However, some inspired spin bowling from Brain Vitori (5/61) meant Pakistan were dismissed for just 230. Pakistan again show some fight in the second innings, with Rahat Ali’s 5/52 instrumental in bundling out Zimbabwe for just 199.
Needing 264 to win, Pakistan were outdone by some inspired bowling. Misbah-ul-Haq threatened to take the game away from the hosts at one time but his knock of 79* wasn’t enough to deny Zimbabwe a slim 24-run win.
First Published: November 6, 2018, 3:40 PM IST