Aminul Islam boosts Bangladesh in First Test against Zimbabwe
On a hot sunny day at Queens Sports Club in Bulawayo, Heath Streak of Zimbabwe won the toss and put Bangladesh in to bat on a pitch containing an unusual amount of grass for this venue.
However, with Streak himself well below his best form and his three fellow seamers inexperienced, the team wasted their advantage and were undoubtedly relieved to take five wickets in the final session after Bangladesh had reached 194 for four. Bangladesh, for their part, would have settled for a total of 256 for nine at the close.
It was a notable first day in Test cricket, though, for all-rounder Andy Blignaut, who took four wickets with the new ball, effected a brilliant run-out and took a slip catch. A pity there was a crowd of only about 100 to appreciate it. For Bangladesh, Aminul Islam nearly followed up his century in Bangladesh's inaugural Test with another here, being dismissed for 84.
Queens normally provides batsmen with the perfect conditions to practise their trade, but this pitch was obviously intended to assist Zimbabwe's strong pace attack; to what extent remained to be seen. It has been usual for Zimbabwe to play two spinners at this venue, but instead left-armer Raymond Price was made 12th man, giving Zimbabwe four pace bowlers - two of them debutants Blignaut and Brighton Watambwa.
In the event, Javed and Mehrab Hussain, the more aggressive of the two, handled good bowling by Streak and Blignaut competently. The bowlers extracted some pace and movement from the pitch, but it was never as venomous as it can be at Harare Sports Club. It was 50 minutes before Mehrab (16) snicked a fast, high catch to third slip, where Mluleki Nkala parried it for the catch to be completed by Guy Whittall at fourth. Bangladesh were 26 for one and Blignaut had taken his first Test wicket.
He took another in his next over, as Habibul Bashar (0) slashed at a wide ball, only to hammer a catch straight at Brian Murphy at backward point. Watambwa came on to bowl faster than either of his predecessors, but without success. None of the Zimbabwean pace bowlers was able to put the ball in the right spot consistently enough to pressurise the batsmen, and Streak in his later spells was unimpressive and occasionally awful.
After lunch Javed slashed Streak and Blignaut in turn just past the heads of statuesque slips to the boundary before another slash backward of point for four brought him his fifty. Zimbabwe kept an attacking field but too many loose deliveries thwarted their plans. The 84-run partnership came to an end when leg-spinner Murphy came on for the first time and had Javed adjudged caught bat-pad by debutant Dion Ebrahim for 62 with his second ball.
Aminul and Akram Khan appeared to be settling in for another good partnership when a brilliant turn and throw from Blignaut at third man ran out the latter for 21, and Bangladesh were 149 for four just before tea.
Naimur Rahman (22) was another batsman to get a start but fail to build on it, Blignaut taking a catch at second slip to give Watambwa his first Test wicket. Aminul had by now passed his fifty and gave rise to hopes that he might become the first batsman in history to score centuries in both of his country's first two Test matches. However, he showed signs of lapses in concentration and finally fell for 84, driving at Blignaut armed with the second new ball and snicking a catch to the keeper.
Khaled Masud (30) batted positively against the second new ball before finally giving Streak his wicket, edging a catch to the wicket-keeper. Streak followed up by trapping Hasibul Hossain (1) lbw in his next over, and then catching Mushfiqur Rahman (4) off the bowling of Blignaut to end the day.