Second Test Match, at Harare Sports Club, Day 1
Overnight: Bangladesh 300/6 v Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe suffered a disastrous opening day on the Second Test match at Harare Sports Club, mitigated only by the willingness of the Bangladeshi batsmen to donate their wickets through poor strokes. On Zimbabwe’s part, catches were dropped, run-outs were missed and there was a lot of disappointing bowling, especially from Kyle Jarvis. They looked quite flat after their heroics of the First Test, and in addition their over rate was so abysmal they could not even finish their quota for the day in the extra half-hour. The first five Bangladeshi batsmen threw their wickets away and Zimbabwe would have finished the day in a far worse position had their opponents applied themselves.
There had been considerable rain over the previous few days in Harare, but this day was largely sunny, though windy. The pitch was likely to be still damp underneath, and it was clear that the team which won the toss would put the opposition in to bat. This time it was Zimbabwe who had the choice. They had just one change in their team: Regis Chakabva, although his hand was not fit enough for him to keep wicket, was selected as an opening batsman in place of Timmy Maruma, who had a knee injury. Bangladesh made four changes, the most significant being the inclusion of their opening batsman Tamim Iqbal, returning after injury.
Bangladesh approached the early-morning hour positively this time, although there was some frenetic running between wickets. In the first over Zimbabwe missed the chance to run out Tamim Iqbal, and in the next Jahurul Islam was missed off a rather difficult chance in the slips by Graeme Cremer off Keegan Meth. Kyle Jarvis had finished the First Test with a slight strain, and perhaps it was still troubling him, but in the event he had perhaps his poorest day of his brief Test career, posing little threat to the batsmen and generally lacking in control. He came off after his first five overs had gone for 26 runs, and Shingi Masakadza in keeping with Meth showed more control.
Bangladesh’s early wickets were all self-inflicted. Jahurul Islam, who handled the swinging ball well, went for 24, attempting a lofted drive off Meth and skying a catch into the covers. Meth managed to fluff a run-out opportunity with Mohammad Ashraful stranded in mid-pitch, but the latter still managed another unusual dismissal – he had scored only 4 when he attempted a pull and was actually caught in the gully off the toe of the bat.
After lunch Tamim Iqbal was run out by Shingi Masakadza for 49, attempting a risky single for his fifty, and Mominul Haque skied a catch to extra cover off Chigumbura. Bangladesh at this stage were 125 for four, but now Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim dug in together and applied themselves well, if slowly, to their task. The advantage began to tilt towards Bangladesh as the total passed 200 with only four wickets down, and Shakib reached his fifty off 84 balls.
Mushfiqur reached his own fifty off 126 balls, bringing up the century partnership at the same time. Both showed commendable patience and good shot selection, keeping the score moving all the time against bowling that never looked threatening. Mushfiqur on 53 was perhaps fortunate to survive a torturous decision by the third umpire against a stumping off Cremer. Perhaps that incident affected Shakib’s concentration, though, as he took a wild swing off Elton Chigumbura and was caught at the wicket for 81. The pair had put on 123 invaluable runs for the fifth wicket, the score now being 248 for five.
Shortly afterwards Mushfiqur, on 56, skied a ball towards square leg, where Cremer dropped another catch. Then he missed out on a wicket when Taylor failed to hold a hard chance at slip, and his bowling was erratic; he hardly bowled before tea, but now he was being used virtually as a stock bowler until the second new ball was available. With that, Zimbabwe finally picked up a genuine wicket, as opposed to a donated one, as Mushfiqur (60) was beaten by a fine ball from Jarvis, almost his first of the day, that cut in and trapped him lbw.
Bangladesh passed 300 just before the close, with six wickets down, five of them gifts. Meth was by far the most economical bowler, his 16 overs costing only 22 runs, although he did not always make the batsmen play enough, while Chigumbura also impressed at times. Zimbabwe will need to pull themselves together for the second day before the match runs away from them.