Zimbabwe tighten their grip on Test against Bangladesh

John Ward

April 21, 2001

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By the close of play on the third day at Queens Sports Club, Zimbabwe, although playing rather erratically, were slowly tightening their grip on the First Test match. After taking a first-innings lead of exactly 200, they took two Bangladeshi wickets for 91 runs when bad light stopped play prematurely.

The day started with Bangladesh taking the second new ball immediately, while Zimbabwe responded with much more enterprise than they had shown the previous evening. The visitors were missing Khaled Mashud, who fractured his fibula in the lethal pre-play warm-ups, and Mehrab Hussain substituted behind the stumps.

The 300 soon came up in the 89th over. Streak enjoyed a life in the slips when on 39, and ran quickly through the forties to his fifth Test fifty. He had clearly set his mind on a Test century but unfortunately for him when on 67 he pushed a firm catch into the covers off Manjural Islam, while debutant Andy Blignaut was caught and bowled first ball off a leading edge. Zimbabwe were 353 for seven and Manjural had taken five wickets on his debut.

Grant Flower was rather slower to reach his half-century, and he and Nkala dug in so deeply that one would have thought Zimbabwe were battling to save the follow-on. Flower scored only 22 in the morning session and astonished everybody with fours off the first two balls after lunch, although admittedly one was a thick edge through the slips. He now moved quickly to 68 before hooking a bouncer from Hasibul Hussain right down the throat of deep fine leg.

Mluleki Nkala and Brian Murphy were obviously under instructions to squeeze out as many runs as they could, and they applied themselves diligently to the task that some of the top order should have done. Both passed their previous highest Test scores, and Nkala made 47 before being another batsman to be bounced out, caught this time by the keeper.

There was a brief but entertaining last-wicket stand between Murphy (30) and Brighton Watambwa (4 not out) before the former was caught at short-leg off Naimur Rahman. Zimbabwe were all out for 457, a lead of exactly 200, and tea was taken. Manjural Islam took six wickets for 81 on his debut, which was also the best for Bangladesh in their two-Test career.

Streak began with a couple of wayward deliveries when Bangladesh went in again, but enjoyed some good fortune when Mehrab Hossain (0) drove at a half-volley and played it on to his middle stump via the inside edge.

Zimbabwe kept an attacking field but Blignaut, especially, was not always accurate enough to warrant it, and Bangladesh kept the runs coming through positive play. Streak too was well below his best but Watambwa had Habibul Bashar (24) swatting a short ball to cover.

Javed Omar was again in good form, but enjoyed a life on 47 when Watambwa put down a return catch off a leading edge. Shortly after, at 4.35 with nine overs remaining to be bowled, the umpires offered the batsmen the light and they naturally came off, with the score 91 for two (Javed still 47, Aminul Islam 5).

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