Hondo rattles Bangladesh

Bangladesh 169 for 8 (Rafique 56, Hondo 6-45) trail Zimbabwe 298 (Taibu 85*, Enamul 7-95) by 129 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Bangladesh found themselves in a familiar position, struggling to put a total on the board after Douglas Hondo ripped through the batting to claim 6 for 45. Where other medium-fast bowlers struggled, he found swing. This, as well as the slightly low bounce, surprised the batsmen. But Bangladesh, through Mohammad Rafique, fought back and ended the day at 169 for 8, still 129 behind Zimbabwe's total.
This was an unexpected turn of events, because Bangladesh had dominated Zimbabwe comprehensively in the first Test, and this morning's events suggested continuity in the proceedings. Enamul Haque jr foxed three batsmen to end with 7 for 95 to improve his own mark for the best bowling by a Bangladeshi in Tests. He also became the youngest, at 18 years and 41 days, to take a seven-for in a Test innings, to go with his own record for youngest player with a six-for, which he achieved at Chittagong. There was some Zimbabwean resistance - mainly from Tatenda Taibu, who advanced to 85 before running out of partners - but Bangladesh kept up the pressure to dismiss them for 298.

Bangladesh's openers then started brightly, putting on 58 in quickly. Javed Omar (34), who was severe on the frequent loose offerings, contributed most of the 58, while Nafis Iqbal was cautious initially after surviving two extremely close leg-before shouts. Gradually Iqbal grew in confidence and matched Omar's strokeplay.

But the Hondo threat was never far away. He dismissed both openers in quick succession. Omar nicked one that kept low as he shaped to cut, and Iqbal flicked off his hips to the wicketkeeper. Mohammad Ashraful's stay was short, as he was trapped in front by a Hondo delivery that swung in marginally (84 for 3). It was yet another disappointing innings from Ashraful. His spectacular 158 against India had showcased his capabilities, but the efforts that have followed have highlighted his inconsistency.

Hondo continued to wreck the innings, knocking over Habibul Bashar's stumps, and then removing Aftab Ahmed - via an exemplary catch by Stuart Matsikenyeri, who flung himself full-stretch at midwicket and plucked the ball out of the air - and Khalid Mashud with an in-swinging yorker (107 for 6).
But Mohammad Rafique played with rebellious abandon and swung his bat at just about anything that came his way. Most of the time the ball was struck cleanly and went where it was intended. He raced to 56 with seven fours and a six, and his effort was all the more special as he was troubled by a foot injury for much of his innings. Rafique was dismissed towards the end of the day, which meant that only the tail remained. But if they need inspiration, they only need to look at the Zimbabwean tail. Men of lesser ability stood by Taibu as he steadily, fortuitously, and sometimes cheekily gathered runs.

Taibu's first run of the morning, which brought up his half-century, came off an inside edge that missed the stumps narrowly. But slowly he found his feet and played the reassuring role that Zimbabwe needed. He pounced on anything loose, twice cover-driving picture-perfectly for four, and kept his bat well away when the ball moved.

Enamul landed the ball on a length and spun it away from the right-handed batsmen. This way, he turned Graeme Cremer and Hondo inside out and bowled them. He then ended the innings by finding the edge of Christopher Mpofu's bat. This was his second five-wicket haul on the trot, and added to his reputation as a man to watch out for.

Bangladesh have fought harder against tougher teams, while this new-look Zimbabwe have caused a flutter or two among their opponents by taking quick wickets. The result is that two countries whose cricketing existence is questioned most often might well provide a hard-fought Test, something that does not happen all that often even with more accomplished teams.

Rahul Bhatia is on the staff of Cricinfo.