HARARE (AFP) – An 84-run partnership between Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim tightened Bangladesh’s grip on the second Test against Zimbabwe, but it was fast bowler Robiul Islam who deserved the plaudits on day three at Harare Sports Club.
Robiul became the first seamer to take five wickets in consecutive innings for Bangladesh as Zimbabwe were bowled out for 282 – a first-innings deficit of 109 – but the tourists required a calm stand from Shakib and Mushfiqur to rescue their second innings after a calamitous start.
Although Shakib was out to part-timer Hamilton Masakadza for 59 shortly before the close, Mushfiqur’s unbeaten 50 took Bangladesh to stumps on 163 for five, giving them an overall lead of 272.
Zimbabwe were aided by some controversial umpiring as they bounced back from their disappointing first innings to reduce Bangladesh to 18 for three, with Tamim Iqbal dubiously given out caught behind and Mohammad Ashraful adjudged lbw.
However with the Decision Review System not in place due to the prohibitive costs, the decisions from umpires Tony Hill and Ian Gould were final.
Mominul Haque helped rebuild the innings with a steady 29 in a patient stand with Shakib, before he became Shingirai Masakadza’s third wicket when he was caught by the bowler’s older brother, Hamilton.
At that stage Bangladesh’s ability to set Zimbabwe a difficult target was under question, but Shakib and Mushfiqur ensured their dominance, and also enjoyed some fortune as Shakib was dropped twice.
“We’re in a pretty good position going into the last couple of days,” said Bangladesh assistant coach Corey Richards. “It hasn’t all been smooth sailing today but fortunately a bit of experience showed in Shakib and Mushy putting on a pretty important partnership for us.”
Nevertheless Robiul was undoubtedly the star of the day, following up his 6 for 71 in the second innings of the first Test by charging in for 33 overs to claim figures of 5 for 85 in the first innings of the second.
When Elton Chigumbura’s career-best 86 threatened to turn the tide in a brisk 85-run partnership with Richmond Mutumbami, who made 42, Robiul promptly dismissed both batsmen with the second new ball.
“His efforts have been unbelievable – he’s taken 14 wickets in the series so far,” said Richards.
“He’s got the best first-class record of any of our bowlers and so far on this tour he’s put the ball in the right areas more often than not – and that’s what you’ve got to do in these conditions.”