Taylor's ton leads Zimbabwe fightback
Zimbabwe 217 for 4 (Taylor 105*, Waller 55) v Bangladesh
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Zimbabwe had their backs to the wall for the first half of the day, only for their captain Brendan Taylor to lead a fightback with his third Test century. It was an impressive knock from Taylor and, given the circumstances leading up to the match, his unbeaten 105 may be one of the best knocks by a Zimbabwean batsman in recent times.
The home side ended the first day on 217 for 4, a significantly better position than seemed possible at one stage. Taylor's innings meant Bangladesh remained frustrated as they floundered an opportunity to take command. However, the four wickets would give the visitors hope of a better second day, with the knowledge that Zimbabwe have few experienced batsmen in their line-up.
Taylor's positive attitude should rub off on his team-mates, especially the other free-flowing batsmen. He began his innings with a lofted six off Enamul Haque jnr, and continued to dominate Bangladesh's most used spinner on the day. He swept Enamul with comfort and drove him, regardless of a deep fielder's position down the ground.
Against the pace bowlers, Taylor was steadfast and batted them out without taking too many risks. He left deliveries that were close to the offstump, especially those that didn't let him free his arms. He drove well against the seamers, too, but waited for scoring opportunities on the leg-side, as the Bangladesh bowlers lost some of their energy in the second and third sessions.
Taylor reached his century off exactly 200 balls, with one of his signature shots, flaying the ball through cover off the front foot. He remained unbeaten on 105 off 211 balls at stumps, with Elton Chigumbura at the other end on 6.
Taylor survived a dropped catch off Enamul on 35, when Shahriar Nafees couldn't hold on to a tough chance at long-on. It was Taylor's only lapse of concentration and it was perhaps the costliest of the three dropped catches on the day.
Nafees had earlier dropped a simple chance off Timycen Maruma's edge in the first over, and Mohammad Ashraful had dropped Malcolm Waller when the batsman was on 22. Waller went on to score his second half-century in Test cricket. His 55 came off 138 balls with just three boundaries, as he focused on picking singles and pushing up the run-rate during his fourth-wicket partnership with Taylor. The pair added 127 at 2.97 runs per over and, for the 40-odd overs they were at the crease, Zimbabwe were a different batting side.
Bangladesh had their moments in the first session when Robiul Islam, their best bowler on the day, removed Maruma and Vusi Sibanda within the first 15 overs. Maruma, a middle-order batsman and one of three debutants for Zimbabwe in this Test, batted cautiously and left most of the deliveries he faced. Sibanda, the more aggressive of the pair, hit one boundary and missed many deliveries before his middle-stump was uprooted by a Robiul yorker.
Maruma fell lbw to the same bowler a few overs later and, as Rubel and Robiul continued to bowl tightly, Zimbabwe looked in big trouble.
Bangladesh, however, squandered their chances at taking control. Masakadza and Taylor added a slow 43 for the third wicket and the Masakadza wicket should have handed Bangladesh enough momentum. They had to wait almost three hours for their next breakthrough, when Waller fell to Rubel, two overs after the second new ball was taken. Chigumbura, playing in his first Test since 2011, was bowled by Rubel, but the third umpire decided that Rubel had overstepped the line.
Mushfiqur Rahim hardly used Sohag Gazi, continuing with Enamul throughout the second session, and after tea as well. Another folly was the lack of an aggressive field when Robiul was bowling. There were also some close leg-before shouts, but one could say that Bangladesh made more mistakes than the home side.
Zimbabwe's score sets up the game nicely as Bangladesh will have to outdo them on a two-paced wicket. The home side should be buoyed by their captain's innings and if they can extend their score to the 350-run mark, the visitors will have to dig deep to find a footing in this game.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here