After a full two weeks into this tour, the Zimbabwe captain Tatenda Taibu finally got Bangladesh where he wanted them: reeling. They were 169 for 8 at the end of the second day of at Dhaka, and Zimbabwe were in control. Bangladesh will now have to bat very well over the next three days to turn this match around.
"Definitely this has been our best day on the tour," said Taibu. "I batted well with the lower-order batsmen. The bowlers kept it simple. We are in a very good position. I thought the bowlers stuck to their plans and obviously we kept it tight in the field." Taibu himself held up the Bangladesh bowlers for more than five hours, and eeked out a 54 runs for the last two wickets this morning. "I just tried to do what I do best," he added. "I wanted to spend as much time as I could at the crease, but the nucleus [of the fight] came from the bowlers."
Despite his side's current advantage, Taibu felt there was a still a lot of cricket to be played in this Test and wants to ensure a stiff target for Bangladesh when they bat. "Tomorrow we have to try and be disciplined and we must not underestimate Bangladesh. We have to stay tight in our game. We have to bat well and bat for longer periods of time and get ourselves in a strong position. The pitch here is very different from the one in Chittagong, which managed to hold up. This one is crumbling on the second day. Batting last won't be easy on it."
Zimbabwe's star performer was the medium-fast bowler Douglas Hondo, who recorded his best Test figures of 6 for 45 as he ran through the Bangladesh top order. Hondo didn't hold back when he was asked what kept him going during a spell either side of tea that lasted 17 overs.
"I was thinking of 10 wickets," said Hondo before adding, "When I bowled my first over, I kept thinking I need to keep my runs per over down so I kept thinking line and length. Then, when it started reversing, I played around with it."
For the Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar, it was a day when all the bad memories came rushing back after the historic high at Chittagong. Bashar also thought that the team could not handle the excitement of that first Test win professionally. "This was exactly what I had feared," he said. "You [have] got to remember that we have a team full of very young players and maybe it was difficult for them to get over the euphoria of the win in the first Test. Hopefully, after today's events, they will realise that you can never take it easy in Test cricket and you may slip on any of the five days."
Bashar blamed the batsmen for not applying themselves on a track where they needed to graft: "I think they used the conditions very well especially Hondo. He stuck to the same line and had some reverse swing going. Besides, the ball was keeping low. But we batted poorly. At this level, if some one gets a start, he should finish it as well. We could not do that."
To add to Bashar's woes, he may be deprived of the services of the left-arm spinner Mohammad Rafique in Zimbabwe's second innings, as he hobbled off the ground with a recurrent hamstring strain after playing a face-saving 56. "Because of Rafique's innings, we are still in the match," Bashar said. "Otherwise it could have been further behind. His condition is 50/50. The physio will have a look at him tonight and also tomorrow morning. At the moment I can't say whether he'll be able to bowl in the second innings."
In spite of the odds, Bashar was not giving up hope on a fight-back: "There is a lot [of] time left in this game. If we can close the gap and then restrict them in their second innings and chase a reasonable target, we can still get something out of this match. But it will be a mighty hard task."
Enamul followed his six for 45 in Zimbabwe's last innings in Chittagong with a fantastic seven for 95 in Dhaka - bettering his own mark for the best bowling by a Bangladeshi in Tests. He also became the youngest bowler to take seven wickets in an innings in a Test match. "I was not aware of it [the record]," explained Enamul. "People used to tell me that I was a good bowler, but that tag means nothing if you can not perform in the middle. I am happy because I have been able to do it where it matters. I can't say that this has been a satisfying day after what happened with out batting. I would have enjoyed the moment if we were [only] two or three wickets down."
Bashar remains proud of Enamul all the same: "You saw it in Chittagong and you've seen it again today what he can do. He is outstanding and definitely as a captain, I'll expect him to carry on bowling like he has been doing."
Rabeed Imam is a sports writer for the Daily Star in Dhaka.