Sean Williams' wagon wheel after day one in Sylhet tells you the whole story. Spokes everywhere except towards third man. He was playing spin 80% of the time at the crease, so this means he wasn't trying to nurdle spin past the slips. Fifty-two runs off 41 balls in which he looked for a single, a two or a three.
The boundaries came late in Williams' innings, as it always does. He has always been a "get set first, take the game deep" kind of a batsman. He loosened up only after Peter Moor started to find his range against spin, in the day's last session, when the Bangladesh spinners' frustration had forced them to bowl a little more defensively. Williams' fours came through cover drives and cuts in front of square, three times with sweeps and two others that he biffed through midwicket.
His battle against offspinner Mehidy Hasan was particularly interesting, given how Bangladesh captains have always viewed him as dangerous for left-hand batsmen. Williams scored just 13 runs off 66 deliveries from him, and he only timed one sweep pretty well, fetching him a boundary in the post-lunch session. Still, he survived and Mehidy's inability to remove Williams must have irked Bangladesh throughout the day.
Williams said that being bogged down, he sometimes thought of taking risks, which he perhaps did by sweeping against the spin at times. "It is always a tough situation when you have lost three wickets," Williams said. "I think Bangladesh bowled and fielded really well. Their field-sets were tough. It wasn't easy to get an easy one knocking it on the legside or offside. They were very tight the whole time. It did put a lot of pressure and force us to think about taking risks."
These type of gutsy knocks have peppered Williams' ODI career, in which he has scored 29 fifties and two centuries. In the ODI series against Bangladesh before this Test, he made 226 runs being only once dismissed. His unbeaten 129 was a career-best, but the entire effort slipped under the radar because of how Zimbabwe were crushed 3-0.
Williams said that it would be more important for him to finish the tour well, after making such a good start in the ODIs. He was disappointed to miss out on a century here, falling to Mahmudullah just 12 runs short of his second Test century. "I have had a good tour so far but I want to continue to take advantage of my good form," he said. "I enjoy playing spin. It is one of my strengths.
"Obviously today I had a lapse of concentration on 88, which let me down in getting a three-figure score. I have to work hard again in the second innings to not let that happen."
He has had to get his thoughts in order, after seeing so many batsmen scoring hundreds around him while he tends to get out too often after being settled at the crease.
"I kept on scoring mainly sixties and seventies. It started to hurt really badly. You see people around the world scoring hundreds. You see Kohli making hundreds for fun. I wanted to be part of that and contributing towards the team.
"Maturity is a big thing but the way that I have trained has changed. It is a process leading up to scoring hundreds. It is not walk out there and talent takes over, no. It actually starts from back at the hotel or at home. It has changed for me, and hopefully more runs start to come."
Williams, who reportedly missed out on their last full tour to Bangladesh in 2014 after a fallout with then coach Stephen Mangongo, is actually highly rated on these shores because of his ability to play spin.
Williams has had two stints in the Dhaka Premier League, the local List-A competition, but it was a mixed experience as he was left stranded in a Dhaka hotel in 2013 after his club officials didn't make accommodation payments.
Being on his 15th tour to Bangladesh since 2006, the home bowlers should have had a measure of his ability. Mahmudullah did seemingly everything required to get the better of him: he used Mehidy against him the most and used tight fields to cut out his singles options for long stretches.
But being in form and making patience his No. 1 priority, Williams found a way out. Zimbabwe were in trouble at various times, but Williams held the home bowlers at bay. His effort now means that with a bit of grit from the lower order, Zimbabwe can eye a challenging total on day two.