HARARE (AFP) – Robiul Islam’s tireless spells of fast bowling and an unusually loose stroke from Zimbabwe captain Brendan Taylor allowed Bangladesh to close day two of the second Test with a hard-earned advantage.
Robiul charged in for 19 overs in a little more than two sessions, dismissing Zimbabwe’s openers and applying pressure to the middle order before a late flurry of runs saw the hosts close on 158 for four.
That left them 233 runs short of Bangladesh’s 391 all out, in which Nasir Hossain’s aggressive 77 had stretched the final total on Friday morning.
Taylor was the lynchpin of Zimbabwe’s batting during their handsome victory in the first Test, and so his dismissal for 36 in the final session was a clear triumph for Bangladesh.
The 27-year-old had ridden out a prolonged spell of short bowling from Robiul and eaten up 80 deliveries to score his first 16 runs, but his patience finally broke when he holed out to deep midwicket off the bowling of off-spinner Sohag Gazi.
Malcolm Waller had been Taylor’s companion in a watchful 52-run partnership that rebuilt the innings from the troubled position of 45 for three, and went to stumps on 30 not out from 112 deliveries.
He was joined for the last 17 overs of the day by Elton Chigumbura, who threw caution to the wind and survived a dropped catch on his way to an unbeaten 45 from just 49 balls that gave Zimbabwe a much-needed lift.
While Zimbabwe still have some way to go to achieve parity, Bangladesh know that the remaining six wickets could be difficult to come by on a pitch offering little assistance to the bowlers.
“Bowlers have to work hard to get wickets on this track because it’s a much better wicket than the last one,” Shakib Al Hasan said. “But if we are patient enough and create lots of pressure then we will take wickets.”
Zimbabwe may be hampered by the loss of a key player, with Keegan Meth confirming that he is battling an injury to his right patella.
Despite requiring a painkilling injection to bowl on Friday, Meth showed greater control than his teammates in taking two for 41 from 22 overs.
“I have to bite the bullet. There isn’t much Test cricket to come after this so I just have to get through it,” said Meth.
“We’re behind the game at the moment, we understand that. But that’s one of the reasons why we’ve picked four all-rounders in the side – we bat quite deep.”