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The Bulletin by Rahul Bhatia
January 16, 2005
Zimbabwe 298 and 203 for 6 (Taibu 81*, Taylor 78, Mortaza 3-45) lead Bangladesh 211 (Rafique 56, Hondo 6-45) by 290 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Tatenda Taibu and Brendan Taylor swung this Test Zimbabwe's way decisively with an assertive partnership to guide the team out of the woods and into a position to level the series. They came together at 37 for 4 and proceeded with studied aggression to see off Mashrafe Mortaza, who had swamped the top order with his swing and claimed three of the four to fall, and then went on the attack. By the end of the day Zimbabwe were 203 for 6, with what should be a decisive lead of 290.
Taibu, who finished with 81 not out, and Taylor (78) started slowly but picked up the pace as they grew in confidence. They adapted to the variable bounce, and then launched into the bowlers in a flurry of cuts, sweeps, drives and lofts over the infield. Both took on the spinners with reverse-sweeps to the fence and attacked the faster bowlers with drives and shots down the ground. Taylor used his wrists well, often fetching balls from outside off and dispatching them to midwicket. At other times he favoured straight-drives. His stand with Taibu was worth 150, easily the highest of the match, and dazzling strokeplay was as much a feature as the number of runs scored.
When Enamul Haque jr broke through Taylor's defence (187 for 5), Zimbabwe had done enough to ensure that any late-order collapse would not hurt their chances. However, they were in an uncomfortable position a few hours ago. Mortaza had dismissed Stuart Matsikenyeri by bringing one in a shade, did the same with Dion Ebrahim, and then swung one the other way to up-end Barney Rogers (37 for 4). In between, Hamilton Masakadza swiped at Mohammad Rafique and miscued him to midwicket.
Then came the stirring fightback. Taibu continued his prolific run, blocking balls on the stumps and pouncing on any loose offerings. His impeccable timing and placement ensured that runs came quickly. For the second time in the game, he looked good for a century. Taibu was helped by the fact that Habibul Bashar had limited bowling options. After his initial burst Mortaza tired, while Rafique struggled with an injury and Tapash Baisya just struggled.
However, the morning had shown Bangladesh, and Mortaza in particular, in a good light. He hung around to score 26 while Baisya ran up 13, and both chipped away at Zimbabwe's lead. They reduced it by nearly a third from last night to give their team renewed hope.
But Bangladesh needed more than hope. Try as they did, the firm of Taibu and Taylor proved too hard to dislodge. There were half-chances that went a-begging, and run-out opportunities that were undone by poor throws. The intention was there, but the execution wasn't.
Rahul Bhatia is on the staff of Cricinfo.
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