Published: August 8, 2011
The Tigers have a long climb ahead after Brendan Taylor’s century pu
t Zimbabwe in control of the one-off Test match at the Harare Sports Club yesterday.
The tourists were 112 for three at stumps on Day Four, requiring a further 263 runs with seven wickets in hand after Zimbabwe declared their second innings during the tea interval on 291-5, setting Bangladesh a target of 375 runs to win in the fourth innings.
Mohammad Ashraful (19) and Mushfiqur Rahim (4) were the not out batsmen at the crease when the umpires called off the day's play.
That Zimbabwe declared instead of batting some more after the second break was met with surprise, though the state of the wicket may have played a part in Taylor's decision, but it set up an absorbing chase as the Tigers try to fend off a win for the home side on their return to Test cricket.
Tamim Iqbal began forcefully in the second innings, hammering seven boundaries at will and giving newcomer Brian Vitori a proper lesson.
On the back of seven consecutive Tests with at least one score of 50-plus, Tamim had a big say in Bangladesh's fortunes. But in the 14th over, he left an incoming delivery from Christopher Mpofu only to have his castle disturbed, falling for 43 off 44 balls, and sparking massive celebrations.
It also ended another solid opening stand worth 65 runs, Tamim and Imrul Kayes's eighth 50-plus partnership. It soon became 87 for two when Imrul edged Kyle Jarvis to wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu for 31 off 64 balls. Shahriar Nafees was next to go, missing another angled delivery from around the wicket after the left-hander made nine.
But the day belonged to Taylor, the Zimbabwean captain who notched up his maiden century in his first Test in charge.
The unbeaten 105 off 175 balls found comparison with Dave Houghton's century in Zimbabwe's inaugural Test in 1992. For the 25-year-old Taylor, it was an inspirational moment when he swept Abdur Razzak for a boundary through fine-leg to reach three figures, seven years after his Test debut.
Coming in to bat on the third evening, Taylor calmly saw off a rocky last hour before resurrecting the Zimbabwe innings from the overnight score of 92 for four.
His 113-run stand with Tatenda Taibu not only put his team in the driver's seat, it frustrated the Tigers' bowlers who definitely came out with an attacking plan.
Shakib Al Hasan's initial incursions were thwarted through a counter-attacking intent and once the pace bowlers were dealt with properly, the Tigers were quickly on the backfoot.
Taylor struck nine solid boundaries, the last 50 runs coming off only 53 balls after he had laboured to a half-century off 117 balls. His square-cuts off the front-foot were remarkable whenever they came off but it was his upper-cut, a shot that he has mastered over the years in one-day cricket that stood out as his best shot.
Taibu made 59 off 136 balls, his careful defensive play at times reminding the visitors of a tougher time he had given them during the 2005 series back home.
After he fell to a catch at extra-cover off Shafiul Islam, Craig Ervine revived his debut Test with an enterprising 55-ball 35 that had four boundaries.
SCORES IN BRIEF
ZIMBABWE: First innings 370
BANGLADESH: First innings 287
ZIMBABWE: Second innings 291 for 5 decl (Mawoyo 35, Sibanda 38, Taylor 105 not out, Taibu 59, Ervine 35 not out; Shafiul 1-29, Robiul 1-48, Razzak 1-49, Rubel 1-75, Shakib 1-60)
BANGLADESH: Second innings 112 for 3 at stumps (Imrul 31, Tamim 43, Ashraful 19 not out, Mushfiqur 4 not out; Jarvis 2-40)