Zimbabwe A v Bangladesh XI, Harare, 2nd day February 15, 2004

Tense finish in prospect at Harare

Wisden Cricinfo staff

Bangladesh XI 199 and 170 for 7 (Mashud 22*, Monir 5*) lead Zimbabwe A 183 (Ewing 71, Alamgir 5-47) by 186 runs

Bangladesh's tour match against Zimbabwe A was set for a tense finish, after another day of low scoring at Harare. By the close, Bangladesh led by 186 runs with three wickets still remaining, and in a match where no side has yet scored more than 200, that may already be sufficient for a morale-boosting win ahead of the first Test next week.

Bangladesh's position might have been even stronger, but for a fine counterattacking effort from Gavin Ewing, who made the only half-century of Zimbabwe A's innings. Ewing had come to the crease late on the first evening, and made light of the early loss of Trevor Gripper to crack 71 from 99 balls. He was eventually prised out by Alamgir Kabir, who finished with 5 for 47, the first five-wicket haul of his career, but Blessing Mahwire added a useful 18 to lift Zimbabwe towards first-innings parity.

Bangladesh made a disastrous start to their second innings. The new captain, Habibul Bashar fell for a fourth-ball duck, and at 42 for 5, they were in real danger of collapsing in a heap. But Mohammad Ashraful - back in the side after a break from top-level cricket - held the innings together with a mature half-century, and with Manjural Islam and Khaled Mashud providing steady support, Bangladesh started to build a useful lead.

But shortly before the close, Ashraful fell to Ewing's offspin for 59, and Bangladesh's hopes were back in the balance. Everything now rests on the former captain Khaled Mashud, who was 22 not out at the close.