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The Report by Mohammad Isam
April 18, 2013
Bangladesh 95 for 1 (Jahurul 38, Ashraful 23*) trail Zimbabwe 389 (Taylor 171, Waller 55, Robiul 3-84, Enamul 3-133) by 294 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A positive response from the Bangladesh batsmen livened up the first Test in Harare. Bangladesh batted freely in the 25 overs they had to face before the close of play, after Brendan Taylor's 171 - the highest by a Zimbabwe Test captain - guided his team to a challenging score.
With exactly 100 minutes left in the day and much to lose in that tricky period, openers Shahriar Nafees and Jahurul Islam chose to take the attack to the Zimbabwe bowlers, not through outrageous shot-making but attractive strokeplay amid a generous dose of half-volleys. Until Nafees' dismissal in the 13th over, the pair dominated the home bowlers with drives through cover, mid-off and mid-on. Nafees also handled the short ball well, pulling through midwicket. However, he fell for 30 when a leading edge was easily caught at point by Timycen Maruma.
Jahurul expressed himself better, using both his natural inclination to defend and his recently-acquired skill to find boundaries. He was dropped off the sixth ball of the innings, much like Zimbabwe opener Maruma had been on the opening day. Jahurul took advantage of that reprieve, striking seven boundaries in his short stay, most of them owing to excellent timing down the ground. He was also severe on balls offering width.
Mohammad Ashraful played a couple of flashy cover drives, and there were some hits and misses. But how normal is an Ashraful innings without the odd flutter?
The Test match progressed at a contrasting pace earlier in the day, as Zimbabwe took their time to put together a competitive total. Taylor went past Andy Flower's 156, the previous highest for a Zimbabwe Test captain, made in 1995 against Pakistan at this venue. A few overs earlier, he reached the highest score by a Zimbabwe batsman against Bangladesh, going past Tatenda Taibu's 153 in 2005. In the first session, he had overtaken his previous Test highest of 117.
Taylor played a consummate captain's knock, before it was ended by a top-edge that was snapped by his counterpart Mushfiqur Rahim. Taylor came to the crease just after the first hour on the first day and used switched gears depending on conditions, situations, and batting partners. He started off slowly with Hamilton Masakadza before letting Malcolm Waller's energetic approach become the driving force of their 127-run fourth wicket stand. As soon as Waller got out for 55, Taylor restrained himself, only doing enough to reach his third Test hundred.
On the second morning, Taylor was under greater pressure, after losing Elton Chigumbura and debutant Richmond Mutambami early. Along with Graeme Cremer, he slowed the pace down considerably, resisting the bowlers determinedly. Till lunch, the pair batted at 1.85 runs per over, before changing gears as soon as Taylor saw Cremer grow in confidence against spin. The two scored at four an over the hour after lunch. During this session, Taylor scored 36 at a run a ball, and his 171 comprised just eight fours and two sixes.
Taylor survived two close calls. On 35, he was dropped at long-off by Nafees who ran in and dived to his left, only for the ball to pop out of his grasp. The second life came when he was on 116. Robiul Islam trapped him in front, but umpire Tony Hill rejected the call.
Taylor and Cremer added 106 runs and it ended when Cremer was brilliantly caught at slip by Mahmudullah. That wicket was Sohag Gazi's first in the innings, and he added one more.
Enamul Haque jnr and Robiul Islam finished with three wickets each, but they were also made to toil. Robiul was the visitors' best bowler on the first day, which he finished with two wickets. Mutumbami was his third. For the remainder of the day, he bowled with discipline and cut off the runs. Rubel Hossain took two wickets in his 30 overs and looked more disciplined than he did in his previous Test in Colombo.
Enamul bowled 47 overs his left-arm spin seemed largely unthreatening. There was a period on the second afternoon when Cremer was happy to let his turning deliveries go to the wicketkeeper. Gazi was underused, but he, too, didn't deliver what Mushfiqur would have been looking for. The Bangladesh captain even used Shakib Al Hasan for seven overs; Shakib was supposed to play this Test as a specialist batsman, recovering from an injury to his leg.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets hereFeeds: Mohammad Isam
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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