Bowlers put Test in balance
Four late Zimbabwe wickets swung the game into balance after the Tigers' batsmen gave themselves little chance, playing poor shots on the third day of the Test match yesterday.
At the end of a crucial day, the hosts were 92 for four in the second innings in front of a thousand or so fans in the stands and banks at the Harare Sports Club, having extended the lead to 175 after Bangladesh were bowled out for 287 runs forty-three minutes after lunch.
Tino Mawoyo and Vusi Sibanda again frustrated the bowlers, adding 69 for the first wicket, the stand ending with 12th man Nasir Hossain's brilliant catch at mid-wicket to get rid of the latter for 38 and Mawoyo's stumps sent cart-wheeling by Robiul Islam. After captain Shakib Al Hasan later removed Hamilton Masakdza and Abdur Razzak got rid of nightwatchman Ray Price, skipper Brendan Taylor and Tatenda Taibu remained the unbeaten batsmen at stumps.
Zimbabwe's top-order had intent at the start but lacked vision and so they didn't go too far with their efforts; a theme that was also true of the more accomplished and experienced Tigers middle-order.
Which Bangladesh batsman played the poorer shot was easy to distinguish but Mohammad Ashaful, Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim were guilty of making exits from strong positions.
Ashraful, having scored his first score of 50 or more after two years and seven months, survived two close calls when on 35 (leg-before shout) and 47 (chance at backward point) off the ill-fated Kyle Jarvis.
But after Mahmudullah Riyad fell for 13 when his pull-shot went as far as square-leg fielder Mawoyo, Shakib and Ashraful rebuilt a wallowing Bangladesh first innings.
From 136-4 early on the third morning, the pair batted confidently, with Shakib dominating proceedings during the fifth wicket stand.
After they had added 54 in quick time, Ashraful played one of those shots that only he could explain. With two slips and a gully in place, the batsman who so needed a big score under a new coaching setup tickled the ball to wicketkeeper Tatenda Taibu off the innocuous Elton Chigumbura.
Ashraful made 73 off 158 balls, his eighth half-century, with the help of ten boundaries, four of which he hit on the third morning. Shakib however played more assertively, hitting seven boundaries in his sixth fifty in Test cricket, but his dismissal too was poorly timed.
After the lunch break, his stand with Mushfiqur Rahim gave the perception of a long stand, the left-hander hammering some neat boundaries but his forceful jab at a shorter delivery from Chris Mpofu only found the edge, ending his innings on 68 off 88 balls.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur tried to keep the tail going but when he mistimed an ill-conceived pull to be caught at square-leg off the impressive Brian Vitori, the end was nigh.
The left-arm fast bowler took four for 66 while Ray Price and Mpofu took two each. Jarvis finally took a wicket, that of Shafiul Islam, after two catches were dropped off his bowling and a close leg-before shout denied.
SCORES IN BRIEF
Zimbabwe: First innings 370 (Masakadza 104, Sibanda 78, Taylor 71, Mawoyo 43, Shakib 3-62, Rubel 3-84)
Bangladesh: First innings 287 (Ashraful 73, Shakib 68, Nafees 50, Mushfiqur 27; Vitori 4-66, Mpofu 2-72, Price 2-34)
Zimbabwe: Second innings 92-4 (Mawoyo 35, Sibanda 38, Taylor 5 not out, Taibu 0 not out; Rabiul 1-6, Razzak 1-22, Shakib 1-9, Rubel 1-25)