Zimbabwe Push For First Test Victory In Five Years
After setting Bangladesh a target of 321, Zimbabwe can fancy their chance of winning their first Test match in five years.
Although Liton Das and Imrul Kayes managed to shed 26 runs off that target before bad light forced a premature end to day-three action at the Sylhet International Cricket Stadium on Monday, Bangladesh have their work clearly cut out.
The statistics do not bear them out: the highest fourth-innings target that they have successfully chased is 219, and that was way back in 2009 against the West Indies.
Zimbabwe, having achieved a first-innings lead of 139, had the chance to run away with the match in their second attempt with the bat as they started day three with all their 10 wickets intact.
It was all going well, slowly but surely, with captain Hamilton Masakadza leading from the front with a composed 48 that pushed the lead past the 200-run mark.
However, spin turned out to be Zimbabwe’s nemesis again, as Taijul Islam claimed five scalps to complete his 11-wicket haul in the match and bring Bangladesh back into contention.
Mehidy Hasan set off the collapse though, when he had Brian Chari’s off stump going for a jog for a 33-ball four, leaving the tourists’ second innings on 19 for one.
Taijul then took his first of the day as he had Brendan Taylor, who smashed four boundaries during his aggressive effort, caught at long-on for 24, slamming the brakes on Zimbabwe’s surge.
Attempting a reverse sweep, Hamilton Masakadza completely missed and was trapped lbw by Mehidy to depart just two runs short of what would have been his second fifty in the match; 101 for three.
His knock came off 104 balls and included seven fours.
Williams then fell next while also attempting to reverse-sweep, only for Taijul’s delivery to find its way onto the stumps and he was gone for 20, which included two fours.
Peter Moor departed for a golden duck to Taijul, before the same bowler completed his 10-wicket haul by beating Sikandar Raza’s desperate defensive push to rattle the stumps – the latter made a 30-ball 25 which included three boundaries and one maximum.
At 130 for six and now leading by 269, there were genuine fears Zimbabwe would fail to put a defendable tally on the board.
A seventh-wicket stand of 35 between Regis Chakabva (20) and Wellington Masakadza (17) however gave the innings a semblance of stability and stretched the visitors’ lead beyond 300.
Tendai Chatara blasted two boundaries before the innings folded at 181 in 65.4 overs, giving Zimbabwe a 320-run lead.
Das and Kayes then got Bangladesh’s chase off to a solid start, leaving the field unbeaten as bad light halted the day’s proceedings prematurely.
When action resumes on day four, Zimbabwe will be hoping to bowl them out and register a remarkable victory, five years since they beat Pakistan in Harare in what was their last success in the longest version of the game.