Match report Zimbabwe v Bangladesh 2003/04 1st Test day 3
by John Ward

Scorecard:Zimbabwe v Bangladesh

Lunch: Bangladesh 122/4 (Saleh 32*, Ashraful 24*). Tea: Bangladesh 191/5 (Ashraful 59*, Rahman 14*). Close: Bangladesh 313/9 (Manjarul Islam Rana 28*, Monjurul Islam 5*).


Zimbabwe laboured to establish their dominance over Bangladesh on the third day of the First Test, as the tourists avoided the follow-on and were still batting at the close, 313 for nine wickets, still 128 runs behind. The main feature of the day was a dashing innings of 98 by Mohammad Ashraful that saw his team through a critical period.


With a little juice in the pitch, as is usual early on at Harare Sports Club, Heath Streak and Andy Blignaut gave the Bangladeshi batsmen a difficult time. They survived half an hour, thanks to great concentration and a little luck, as both played and missed several times. Streak in particular bowled a testing line and length, and finally got his reward when night-watchman Tabash Baishya (4) fished at a ball a little wider and edged a catch to the keeper.


Habibul Bashar’s bad run of form continued as he hooked at a short ball from Blignaut and got a bottom edge, keeper Tatenda Taibu diving forward to take a good low catch. He failed to score, and Bangladesh were in trouble at 35 for three.


Streak, needing one more wicket to reach 200 in Test cricket, nearly got it when Shahriar Hossain, on 21, edged a ball to third slip where Blignaut dropped a hard chance, and two balls later Dion Ebrahim failed to hold an even harder one at fourth slip. Hossain took a long time to find his touch but finally showed his class with two classic cover drives to the boundary off Sean Ervine.


He and Rajin Saleh were just effecting a very useful recovery for their team, with Hossain looking set for greater things, when he moved across his stumps to Douglas Hondo, played across the line and was palpably lbw for 48; 77 for four.


Saleh and Mohammad Ashraful played well together and Price came on just before lunch, tossing the ball high and tempting the batsmen to self-destruct. Instead Saleh lofted him for six over long-on and handled him well. After the interval it appeared to be a war of attrition, with the batsmen defending dourly and the bowlers unable to break through, but this was deceptive, as Zimbabwe bowled enough bad balls for the Bangladeshis to run along at three runs per over; however, they played few memorable strokes as they nudged their way towards the follow-on target of 242.


Luck did play its part as they, along with some of the other visiting batsmen, several times scooped potential catches just beyond the reach of fielders. The pair had added 85 before Price changed ends, came round the wicket and took the wicket of Saleh, who tried to sweep him but played the ball onto his stumps via the glove. He made 49, and Bangladesh were 162 for five.


Ashraful reached his fifty with a straight six off Price, who put down a hard return catch off Mushfique Rahman when he had 6. These two then settled down to share the partnership that was to save the follow-on – although again a remarkable number of scooped shots evaded the fielders. Ashraful especially launched a determined attack in the spinners that saw his team past that target and himself to 91 by the time the second new ball was due.


The second new ball initially changed nothing except that the batsmen proceeded with a little more caution. Not even Streak could trouble the batsmen, and it came as a surprise when Ashraful, stuck on 98, reached for a ball well outside off stump, trying to dab it backward of point with a diagonal bat, and dragged it on to his stumps. He missed what would have been a well-deserved century, but it was joy for Streak, his 200th Test wicket. The next best for Zimbabwe is 70, by Paul Strang. Bangladesh were 259 for six.


Another hard chance went down, as Ebrahim in the gully missed a high catch as Manjarul Islam Rana got off the mark against Streak. Rahman, bogged down since the departure of Ashraful, was next to go, another victim of a technical failing: he drove at a half-volley from Streak just outside off stump and dragged the ball onto his stumps via the bottom edge. He made 44, and Bangladesh were 265 for seven.


Then came a slow period, where the Bangladesh tail-enders were unable or unwilling to score many runs and the Zimbabwe pacemen were unable to break through. It came to an end when Khaled Mashud (6) tried to withdraw his bat from a short delivery from Hondo, but it flicked the face of his bat on its way through to the keeper; 278 for eight.


Again action was slow until Mohammad Rafique (3) lashed out at a ball from Hondo, head way out of line with the ball, and Ervine at first slip clutched the ball before it hit his chest; 288 for nine.


With last man Monjurul Islam at the crease, his hitherto almost somnolent near-namesake Manjarul Islam, whose nickname Rana is often added to emphasize the difference, decided to hit out, lashing several boundaries before bad light finally brought the players from the field at six o’clock with 2.4 overs unbowled.


(Article: Copyright © 2004 John Ward)


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