Zimbabwe XI 42 for 4 (Ervine 0*, Mutizwa 3*, Shafiul 2-21) trail Bangladeshis 188 (Mushfiqur 64, Ncube 3-40) by 146 runs
Mushfiqur Rahim stood head and shoulders above the rest of the Bangladeshi batsman in their first three-day outing as a team in 14 months. The Bangladeshis were shot out for 188 runs in 60.1 overs on the opening day of their practice game against Zimbabwe XI at the Harare Sports Club. But by the end of the day they made a comeback, taking four quick wickets to leave Zimbabwe XI struggling by stumps.
Mushfiqur's dogged 64 and small contributions from Nasir Hossain and Mahmudullah ensured the Bangladeshis at least got close to 200, which looked unlikely when they were 31 for 5. Zimbabwe XI looked uncertain from the very start of their response. Off the first ball of the innings, Tino Mawoyo was dropped at gully off Shafiul Islam. Shafiul then clean bowled Sikandar Raza and got Mawoyo's edge again, with Mushfiqur taking the catch this time. In between, Robiul Islam bowled Regis Chakabva and Tatenda Taibu was run out, leaving Zimbabwe XI four down at stumps and still 146 behind the Bangladeshis.
The last phase of play emphasised how important Mushfiqur's half-century was in the context of the match. He came in to bat at No. 7, and worked hard on a two-paced wicket. His initial toil of leaving as much as possible and playing with soft hands paid off as he gently took the Bangladeshis out of a terrible position and possible embarassment.
After Shakib Al Hasan decided to bat, openers Junaid Siddique and Imrul Kayes were dismissed by the fourth over. Kayes had his stumps disturbed by a Keegan Meth inswinger after Junaid edged a simple catch to the slips off Kyle Jarvis. Mohammad Ashraful was next to go, taken low in the slips before Shahriar Nafees also edged to the slips.
When Shakib fell leg-before, the Bangladeshis were reeling. Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah led the fight by adding 36 for the sixth wicket before Mahmudullah fell to seamer Njabulo Ncube. He made 21 off 64 balls with the help of two boundaries.
Mushfiqur continued his good work, hammering boundaries, and reached a well-deserved half-century. What also stood out was Nasir's contribution. He added 72 for the seventh wicket with Mushfiqur, striking four confident boundaries in his 38 off 60 balls.
After Mushfiqur became the eighth Bangladeshi wicket to fall, the tail added 21 runs with Shafiul Islam hitting 16 off 13 balls.
Among the bowlers, Ncube ended up with three wickets but it was the first spells of Meth, Jarvis and Tendai Chatara that had the Bangladeshis in trouble. Meth and Jarvis had two wickets each while Prosper Utseya too ended with a couple.