Zimbabwe hold advantage at end of the first day against Bangladesh
Despite an impressive partnership between Mehrab Hussain (71) and Habibul Bashar (64), Bangladesh failed to take advantage of another rather disappointing performance by Zimbabwe's bowlers and fielders. At the close they had 198 runs on the board for six wickets, with only Akram Khan of their top order remaining. For Zimbabwe, Raymond Price, with four wickets, had most reason to remember the day.
Heath Streak, with some bitter experiences of the pitch behind him, put Bangladesh in to bat on winning the toss, expecting the usual early life. There was indeed a certain amount of movement, but it was not excessive and the bowlers did not bowl quite well enough to take full advantage of it. The outfield, dead slow for the one-dayers, had improved to be merely slow. After the first hour, it could almost be described as a 400-run pitch coupled with a 200-run outfield.
Javed Omar was not to repeat his superb batting double of Bulawayo, as with only a single to his credit he snicked Streak to Andy Blignaut at third slip. Mehrab Hussain and Al Sahariar stood firm for a while against bowling that did not apply enough pressure and were helped by the occasional misfield. Then Streak showed what might have been achieved by consistent accuracy as Al Sahariar (11) failed to keep down a rising ball and was well held by the diving Grant Flower in the gully.
Runs came at just under two an over, but it was not really an absorbing struggle. Bangladesh might have felt reasonably satisfied at lunch with two wickets down on a pitch assisting the bowlers had not Ray Price been brought on to bowl his left-arm spinners just before the break, and had Aminul Islam caught at slip by Alistair Campbell for 12. Mehrab was still there, having batted through the session for a watchful 21.
With the pitch as usual playing more easily after lunch, Mehrab and Habibul Bashar settled in and then began to take toll of the bowling, choosing skillfully the right deliveries to hit. Mehrab enjoyed two lives, one early on and a second after reaching his 50. The scoring rate gradually increased and Zimbabwe toiled without taking any more wickets by tea. Mluleki Nkala was the most economical of the pace bowlers but Blignaut and Brighton Watambwa were wayward.
After tea Bashar's 50 was quickly followed by the century partnership, and the batsman celebrated by swinging Price over midwicket for six. At last the tourists were beginning to provide a much-needed wake-up call for Zimbabwe's bowlers in this series. They added 114 for the fourth wicket before Bashar (64) leapt down the pitch to Price and was stumped. Shortly afterwards Mehrab (71) pulled the same bowler straight to Stuart Carlisle at midwicket and at 171 for five Bangladesh had undone much of their hard work. Their team would be disappointed that neither stayed for the really big innings required.
The second new ball came with two new batsmen at the crease, but again Streak and Blignaut failed to use it to full advantage. Price returned after six overs with it and had Naimur Rahman (16) given out to a high-looking lbw decision just before the close. Akram Khan (15*) and Mushfiqur Rahman (0*) saw out the day.