HARARE (AFP) – Captain Brendan Taylor marked Zimbabwe’s Independence Day with a record-breaking score, but Bangladesh’s bold reply with the bat allowed them to end day two of the first Test with the initiative.
Taylor’s 171 formed the backbone in a Zimbabwean total of 389 all out, before Bangladesh responded positively to go to stumps on 95 for one with Jahurul Islam unbeaten on 38 and Mohammad Ashraful on 23 not out.
Taylor’s eight-hour epic was also the highest Test score by a Zimbabwean captain, eclipsing Andy Flower’s 156 against Pakistan at the same Harare Sports Club venue in 1995, and the eighth best by any Zimbabwean.
Batting coach Grant Flower, who played 67 Tests for Zimbabwe and scored a double-century himself, rated Taylor’s knock as one of the finest in his country’s history.
“It was definitely up there around the top,” said Flower.
“He showed amazing application, and I think he changed his game — especially yesterday — to the type of wicket he was playing on.
“There’s always been a lot of pressure on him as one of the best batsmen in the side, if not the best, which is pretty similar to what Andy’s situation was.”
Taylor had shared in a century stand with Malcolm Waller on the first day, and enjoyed another one with Graeme Cremer on the second to keep Zimbabwe ticking along — albeit at a slow scoring rate.
After resuming on their overnight total of 217 for four, with Taylor on 105, the hosts lost Elton Chigumbura and Richmond Mutumbami in quick succession at the start of the day’s play before Cremer provided sturdy support in a 107-run partnership for the seventh wicket.
Although Taylor and Cremer departed in the space of three deliveries, with the latter dismissed for 42, Keegan Meth and Shingirai Masakadza prolonged the innings by adding 21 runs apiece.
Whereas Zimbabwe had batted cautiously for the majority of their innings, with the run-rate never rising above 2.7 per over, Bangladesh’s openers opted for a more aggressive approach.
“We thought that the wicket looked a bit better after the first session yesterday, and that it’s a really good pitch now,” Enamul Haque said.
“We can still win this match if we think positively.”
While their approach nearly led to a dismissal in the first over when Jahurul was dropped at third slip by Cremer off the bowling of Kyle Jarvis, it unsettled the rhythm of Zimbabwe’s bowlers and ensured a brisk start.
Jarvis did enjoy success when he induced a leading edge from Shahriar Nafees that was snaffled by Timycen Maruma at point, but the fast bowler was also guilty of bowling too full and conceded 39 runs in his eight overs.