The Bangladesh team management's mantra to rid the Tigers of their dependency on spin at home was evident as a sporting pitch awaited at the centre of the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur during the first day of the first Test against Zimbabwe yesterday.
Although the surface did not offer tremendous assistance to the hosts' bowlers, the Tigers, led by Nayeem Hasan, worked hard and were rewarded for bowling a tight line and length.
The off-spinner bowled a marathon spell of 32 overs at one point and completed a total of 36 overs, ending with four wickets for 68 runs.
Among his four wickets, the scalp of centurion Ervine just before the stumps gave the hosts a thin upper hand as Zimbabwe will resume on 228 for six.
Nayeem made good use of the opportunity after coming into the eleven in place of off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz, who was dropped for the first time in home Tests since making his debut in 2016.
Miraz, who missed the Tigers' previous Test against Pakistan due to a finger injury, has endured a lean patch since getting 15 wickets against the West Indies at home in 2018.
Despite the lack of help from the surface, Nayeem showed his mettle by mixing his deliveries with pace, bounce and a certain line and length for major parts of the day.
The cricketer from Chattogram produced the ball of the day to dismiss Ervine as a quicker delivery zipped through the left-hander's tired legs and went through the gate between pad and bat before taking a deflection off his back leg and going on to hit timber.
Nayeem's strategy was simple: bowl consistently at a particular length. He found success by preferring the off-stump line, forcing batsmen to offer shots and waiting for mistakes.
Even earlier, Zimbabwe had found Nayeem to be only threat after opting to bat. The off-spinner dropped a tough return catch from opener Prince Masvaure and was denied a first wicket of the day, but he compensated soon after by taking a sharp catch off his own bowling to dismiss Masvaure and break the 111-run second-wicket stand.
However, Nayeem did not get enough support from the other end from his bowling partner, left-arm spinner Taijul Islam, who had a tough day at the office and went wicketless during 21 overs that yielded 75 runs.
Nayeem still teased the Zimbabwe batsmen and picked up the crucial wickets of Brendon Taylor and Sikandar Raza cheaply to break through the middle order and give the hosts much-needed momentum.
Nayeem, who came into the game with 21 wickets in the last two Bangladesh Cricket League games for Islami Bank East Zone, believes that bowling long spells in first-class cricket had helped him immensely.
"My plan was to bowl at a certain area and I didn't try to do anything else. I picked up this habit [of bowling long spells] from the National Cricket League [first-class tournament]. I bowled long periods there and learned that bowling in one area can get you success," a soft-spoken Nayeem told reporters yesterday.
Although he came into this match with just four Tests under his belt, Nayeem displayed great maturity and pressed the need for pace variations from the spinners.
"It's important for our spinners to work on pace variations. We are trying to bowl at one line consistently for a longer period," he said.
With the visitors on 228 for six, Nayeem believes it will be important for the hosts to bundle out the opposition quickly when they resume the second day.