Second Test Match, at Harare Sports Club, Day 3
Close of play: Bangladesh 391 and 163/5; Zimbabwe 282.
A match of loose play by both teams, several umpiring blunders and abysmal over rates nevertheless provided good entertainment for a crowd approaching a thousand in number at Harare Sports Club. But the facts were clear: Zimbabwe are heading for certain defeat unless they can pull something really remarkable out of the bag. Bangladesh finished the day with a lead of 272 runs, with five wickets still in hand.
Zimbabwe began the day on 158 for four, their first target being 192 to avoid the follow-on. They started positively, but appearances were deceptive, as Malcolm Waller threw his wicket away with his score on 32, off 129 balls – destined to be the longest Zimbabwean innings – by hitting a long hop from Sohag Gazi right down the throat of deep midwicket. Zimbabwe were 163 for three.
Richie Mutumbami has spent most of the season rescuing Southern Rocks from bad batting situations, and he showed the same sound temperament and fighting spirit today. Elton Chigumbura soon reached his fifty off 56 balls, and hit a six off Robiul Islam to save the follow-on. Robiul bowled another rather long spell with the old ball to open the day, and was then required for the second new ball, but he showed remarkable stamina and turned the game around for Bangladesh, despite going into his 29th over of the innings.
He nearly had Mutumbami out lbw, but umpire Tony Hill checked with the third umpire for a no-ball and Robiul was found to have overstepped. He still dismissed Mutumbami lbw, though, shortly afterwards for 42, padding up and being dispatched by umpire Hill. The pair had added an invaluable 84. Chigumbura did not last much longer, bowled by Robiul with a fast yorker for 86 on the stroke of lunch. He faced 110 balls and hit eight fours and a six. The score was 257 for seven.
The later batsmen did not contribute very much. Cremer stood firm to be unbeaten with 11, but Meth was brilliantly caught at the wicket down the leg side for 16, immediately after hitting Gazi for six, and Shingi Masakadza was dubiously given out caught at the wicket for 5 off Robiul. Umpire Hill has made some controversial decisions during this series and it is unfortunate that the review system is not available. When Kyle Jarvis was bowled by Gazi for 0, Zimbabwe were all out for 282, a deficit of 109. The tireless Robiul took five for 85 off 33 overs out of 96, a remarkable proportion for a paceman, and the cunning Gazi persuaded four batsmen to make fools of themselves for 59.
Jarvis, looking more like his usual self, opened the bowling with Shingi Masakadza, as Meth has trouble with his knee. Masakadza it was who produced a superb delivery rearing at Tamim Iqbal (7), who was given out caught at the wicket by Umpire Hill, yet another controversial decision as the replay showed no contact at all. Then came a genuine wicket, as Jahurul Islam pushed at a ball from Masakadza outside the off stump and edged to the keeper.
Bangladesh were 12 for two, and two runs later might have lost Mominul Haque as well, but Vusi Sibanda could not hold a difficult chance in the slips off Jarvis. Next ball they ran three, and then next ball Mohammad Ashraful (4) was given out lbw to a low full toss that was missing leg stump. This time umpire Ian Gould gave the decision; unfortunately, the umpiring is making rather a farce of this Test match. Bangladesh were 19 for three, two of their wickets going to the umpires rather than the bowlers.
Mominul and Shakib Al Hasan reacted positively to the situation and at tea had taken the score to 42 for three off 16 overs. After tea they continued to bat well, despite more fine bowling by Masakadza, and looked to be in control when at 65 Mominul Haque (29) edged a ball from this bowler to his brother at first slip. Mushfiqur Rahim, however, took over as Shakib’s partner very capably and runs again flowed steadily. Zimbabwe bowled with discipline, but Bangladesh also showed discipline in batting – not always the regular state for either team.
Zimbabwe missed a couple of difficult chances as the spectre of defeat loomed ever larger. Shakib went to a sensible fifty off 95 balls, but ended his innings on 59 with a wild swing at a ball from that skilled partnership-breaker Hamilton Masakadza, edging to the keeper; 149 for four. Mushfiqur (50*) and Nasir Hossain (6) were there at the close, the total 163 for five and the Bangladesh lead 272.