Zimbabwe 264 for 2 (Masakadza 88*, Taylor 40* Hossain 2-58) v Bangladesh
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Zimbabwe's top four ensured that their return to Test cricket was impressive as they achieved a balance between aggression and caution. Hamilton Masakadza scored a fluent, unbeaten 88 after debutant Tino Mawoyo and Vusi Sibanda had put on a century first-wicket stand and laid a solid base for the rest to build on.
Bangladesh's bowlers were inconsistent throughout the day, struggled with their lines and lengths and gave the batsmen the luxury of choosing which deliveries to leave and which to play. As a unit, they posed little threat to the batsmen, with the seam bowlers and the left-arm spinners failing to be penetrative and losing motivation as a result.
Mawoyo had a few nerves at the start, which were exposed when he was almost run out in a moment of impulsion; but he settled soon after and showed remarkable poise and patience in his innings. His first runs came with a classy upper cut and a pair of delicious drives. Sibanda took a little longer to settle in but once he did, and was able to put his drive on display, he was almost unstoppable. The Zimbabwe openers were helped by the fact that Bangladesh's seamers failed to exploit the movement on offer early on.
Shafiul Islam bowled with discipline up front and maintained a challenging length but his new-ball partner Robiul Islam was often too short. The only wicket-taker of the innings, Rubel Hossain, got some movement but was unable to use it to claim any scalps, his two strikes coming from wayward shots rather than attacking bowling.
Bangladesh turned to spin in the 13th over with Shakib bringing himself on and getting a surprising amount of turn. Zimbabwe were wary of the threat of left-arm spin and handled him with caution, being careful not to go forward too much. They smothered the spin of both Shakib and Abdur Razzak and in so doing crafted a base from which to push on. By the time lunch was approaching, they had offered the bowlers no chances and only a lapse in concentration caused Mawoyo to chase a short and wide ball. When he was caught at deep backward point, he ended a partnership that, in some ways, mirrored the century first-wicket stand of Kevin Arnott and Grant Flower in Zimbabwe's first Test in 1992, the main difference being that Arnott and Flower took much longer to reach the hundred mark.
Bangladesh showed more intent after lunch, with two edges off the bat of Sibanda going the way of second slip, one put down and the other not carrying. They bowled with a little more zip for the first half an hour but as the Zimbabwe batsman got comfortable the bowlers were demoralised. Sibanda's driving was moving into fifth gear and Masakadza's strong defence and positive attack presented a combination that was too formidable for Bangladesh. The visitors finally captured another wicket midway through the second session when Sibanda hung his bat out to a short ball and got an edge through to Mushfiqur Rahim.
Masakadza was unruffled, illustrating why he is regarded as one of Zimbabwe's most-improved players. His innings was defined by his drives but he pulled with confidence and also worked the ball well on the leg side. With the ultra-cautious Brendan Taylor at the other end, Masakadza had the freedom to play his shots, which he did not abuse.
In his first innings as captain, Taylor was watchful. He slipped up only once, when he slashed hard and was almost caught behind but for the most part he was sedate and happy to play a supporting role. He and Masakadza did a fine job of accumulating runs by taking singles, helped by the poor effort from Bangladesh in the field.
Although the point region was well covered, and when the ball was hit there it usually found the fielder, runs were leaked in almost every other part of the field. Misfields were commonplace and as the shadows got longer general disinterest seemed to creep in. Balls that should have been chased with more eagerness were merely ambled after and ones that could have been saved were allowed to go through.
Bangladesh took the second new ball as soon as it was on offer but with conditions not as favourable as they were in the morning, they could hardly hope to make use of it. Shafiul had a confident shout for lbw against Taylor in his first over with the new ball but it was given not out. Replays showed that it could have gone over the stumps or down leg. Robiul was again inaccurate and all but wasted the new cherry as the Bangladesh bowlers dragged themselves through the final minutes of play, perhaps weighed down by the many things they will have to work on before the second day.