Bangladesh were hoping to utilise home conditions to greater effect given their strategy of undoing their opponents with a spin-heavy side, but instead it is Zimbabwe who will be the happier side after their performance on the opening day of the inaugural Test at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium yesterday.
The in-form Sean Williams, who struck a hundred in the ODI series, remained firm with the bat for the visitors after a couple of early hiccups, smashing a fluent 88 and negotiating the home spinners well up to his dismissal as the visitors reached 236 for five at stumps.
Peter Moor and Regis Chakabva navigated the final hour of the day with caution and will resume on 37 and 20 respectively with the aim of posting a formidable total and putting the Tigers under pressure.
Williams was heading towards his second Test hundred before being dismissed by skipper Mahmudullah Riyad. A sharp delivery that kicked off the surface and took the outside edge was taken well at slip by Mehedi Hasan Miraz.
However it was Williams' 173-ball vigil, which included nine fours, that helped Zimbabwe steady the ship after losing wickets at crucial moments.
It came as a surprise when Bangladesh opted to go with just one seamer, Abu Jayed, in the line-up alongside three spinners. Left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam and Ariful Haque made their Test debuts while Nazmul Hossain Shanto made a comeback to the Test side after debuting in New Zealand last year.
Skipper Hamilton Masakadza dominated the Bangladeshi bowlers after the visitors opted to bat and reached his fifty in the first session with the help of four fours and two sixes.
But his partner Brian Chari, despite playing well early in the innings, threw his wicket away when he went for a slog and was bowled off left-armer Taijul Islam. The spinner soon removed Brendon Taylor for six with a flighted delivery that took an inside edge and was caught by Nazmul Hossain.
Zimbabwe were then feeling the pressure at 47 for two but Williams and Masakadza calmed things down by lunch, adding 38 runs.
However, Masakadza was trapped in front just after lunch without troubling the scorers and departed for 52. A beautiful delivery shaped into the right-hander to leave the visitors on 85 for three.
Sikandar Raza (19) then paired with Williams and added 44 runs for the fourth wicket before becoming the maiden Test wicket for left-armer Nazmul when he opened the gate between bat and pad, allowing the ball to strike timber.
The home side came back well and managed to mount the pressure on Zimbabwe and bowled six maiden overs in the post lunch session. However, after Williams' departure, Moor and Chakabva managed to see things through until stumps.