Bangladesh openers shatter records
Bangladesh 303 for 2 (Imrul 130, Tamim 109) v Zimbabwe
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Imrul Kayes and Tamim Iqbal elevated Bangladesh and themselves to a new high in the Test series against Zimbabwe. On the first day of the third Test, their individual centuries and record opening stand dominated a beautiful day in Chittagong where the only disappointment for them was a very small crowd witnessing these milestones, one of which belonged to one of their own men.
The pair added 224 runs for the first wicket, Bangladesh's highest opening stand, in 63.5 overs, breaking their own 185 made at Lord's in 2010. This was the first time a Bangladeshi opening pair had batted the first two sessions of a Test. Bangladesh lost two wickets in the final session of the day with Mominul Haque and Mahmudullah remaining unbeaten on 46 and 5 respectively.
The opening stand was finally broken just three overs after tea when Tamim fell to a great catch by Hamilton Masakadza at mid-on, diving to his left to complete an improbable chance. Sikandar Raza was the one who brought the much-needed breakthrough, as Tamim fell for 109.
Tamim's sixth Test hundred, equal with Mohammad Ashraful for most hundreds by a Bangladeshi, was his first international hundred in his hometown. He spent slightly over four hours at the crease for a second consecutive hundred in this series, after his 109 in Khulna. The last time Tamim had scored consecutive hundreds was in 2010 in Lord's and Manchester, but he spent more than four years without his next hundred.
Four of his 14 fours were through the on side and he threaded the off-side ring square of the wicket; his drives past the bowler were the highlights. Two were struck off the legspinner Natsai M'shangwe on either side of the wicket while the one off Tinashe Panyangara was a straighter drive.
In the third over of the morning, after Kayes had already struck two fours in the first couple of overs, Tamim rocked back and struck the ball through point off Panyangara. He was off, but let Kayes do a lot of the scoring at the start. He reached his fifty off 88 balls soon after the lunch break, and in the 55th over, reached the three-figure mark. His previous highest score in Chittagong was 86 against England in 2010 and his ODI highest was 95 against Zimbabwe in the same year.
At the other end, Kayes was a reminder of how he had been part of Bangladesh's most consistent opening stand between 2008 and 2011 before he was dropped. He started off with more boundaries than Tamim but held on through lean phases throughout the day. He reached his fifty off 123 balls before reaching his second hundred in three Tests.
After Tamim's dismissal, Kayes added 48 runs for the second wicket with Mominul, before falling to a flayed drive with an outside edge off Masakadza, caught by substitute Vusi Sibanda at gully. Kayes finished with 12 fours and two sixes in his 257-ball 130.
Most of his boundaries came through the on side, including the two sixes in which he put his whole body behind the hit, both off M'shangwe with the spin.
Although Zimbabwe stayed relatively energetic throughout the day, Kayes got two lives early on. When he was on 19, Brian Chari dropped a sitter at deep square leg after Kayes had hammered a M'shangwe full toss. In M'shangwe's next over, Zimbabwe dithered to take a review, when they had both available, with the same batsman trapped plumb in front. M'shangwe was not confident to take the review and so was wicketkeeper Richmond Mutumbami. There were moments of the ball beating the bat on a few occasions as well as one ball falling short of slip and square leg, but the Zimbabwe bowlers hardly created enough pressure with the new ball.
That being said, Tamim and Kayes hardly put a foot wrong for two full sessions.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84