Streak caps of Zimbabwe's day
Bangladesh 14 for 1 trail Zimbabwe 441 (Ervine 86, Ewing 71, Streak 68, Taibu 59) by 427 runs
Tapash Baisya celebrates the big wicket of Sean Ervine
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Zimbabwe edged their way into a strong position against Bangladesh on the second day of the first Test at Harare. Sean Ervine and Gavin Ewing both recorded Test-best scores, and Heath Streak played a captain's innings of 68 to boost Zimbabwe to an imposing 441 all out. To make matters worse for Bangladesh, they lost Hannan Sarkar shortly before the close of play to finish on 14 for 1.
While the Bangladeshi attack yesterday managed to keep the batsmen in check, it was a different story today, as first Ervine and Tatenda Taibu, and then Streak and Ewing carved together hundred partnerships to put Bangladesh firmly on the back foot.
Play started half an hour early due to the time lost for rain on the first day, and after an accurate start, the bowlers started to lose their control. Ervine and Taibu, the two overnight batsmen, were forced to play carefully initially, but they slowly built up the momentum with the odd boundary.
Taibu eventually stepped up a gear when he hit Mushfiqur Rahman for two fours in one over, and then pulled Tapash Baisya to deep square-leg to bring up his fifty. Ervine then got in on the act, hammering Baisya for three eye-catching boundaries through backward point, the first of which brought up his second Test half-century, and in some style.
However, just as Zimbabwe were threatening to run away with things, Mohammad Rafique temporarily stopped them in their tracks. He was brought back on after the morning drinks break to immediate effect, sending down his arm ball which Taibu padded up to and was palpably lbw (285 for 5).
Ervine, though, continued to be aggressive on anything full and short, and Bangladesh's frustrations were beginning to show. Rahman needlessly threw towards the stumps in anger, and the ball spat out of the rough and flew over the wicketkeeper's head for four overthrows.
However, it was another break in play which did for a Zimbabwe batsman. After a half-hour delay for rain after lunch, Baisya got the big wicket of Ervine, who edged an awaycutter to Hannan Sarkar at second slip for 86, including 11 fours (299 for 6).
Baisya nearly had another wicket soon after when Andy Blignaut edged a full ball outside off to Sarkar, but this time he put it down. Blignaut didn't make the most of his let-off, though, and three overs later he was deceived by the Rafique arm ball and stumped by Khaled Mashud (306 for 7).
Streak, meanwhile, dug in and made a overly-cautious start, not scoring his first boundary until his 70th ball. He survived a chance when dropped on 28 off Rafique by Habibul Bashar in the slips, but he and Ewing then enjoyed a final flourish to boost Zimbabwe's score up to 350 and beyond. They finally opened up with some big shots, both hitting one six, and slowly turning the screw in Zimbabwe's favour.
Mohammad Rafique shouts with delight after trapping Tatenda Taibu lbw
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Streak hit seven fours in all, most of them off short balls through the offside. Baisya received most of the treatment, and Streak drove him powerfully through extra cover to bring up Zimbabwe's 400. Ewing, playing in only his second Test, rode his luck at times with a few edges going through the slips, and it was through that shot which he notched up his first Test half-century.
It was Rahman who eventually removed Streak, when he played across the line and edged to Mashud, who took a smart catch down the legside (412 for 8). Ewing continued to attack, sweeping the spinners when he could, and Ray Price also heaved two lusty fours until he went for another big shot and was caught by Rajin Saleh off Rahman (433 for 9). Ewing then also perished in an attempt to get quick runs, as he edged to Mashud trying to hit Rahman down the ground for an impressive 71.
Bangladesh had just over three overs to see out before the umpires offered them the light, and Streak capped off a good day's work with the scalp of Sarkar, who was trapped lbw in front of middle (13 for 1). Shahriar Hossain and Baisya understandably accepted the light, and Bangladesh now need something spectacular tomorrow to claw themselves out of an increasingly dark hole.