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Zimbabwe fight back after letting Bangladesh off the hook

Bangladesh – 468 all out in 126 overs (Mahmudullah 150*, Liton Das 95, Ahmed Taskin 75; Blessing Muzarabani 4/94, Donald Tiripano 2/58, Victor Nyauchi 2/92)

Zimbabwe – 114-1 in 41 overs (Milton Shumba 41, Brendan Taylor 37*, Takudzwanashe Kaitano 33*; Shakib Al Hasan 1/43)

Day 2 – Stumps: Zimbabwe trail by 354 runs

Zimbabwe’s rookie opening batsmen, Milton Shumba and Takudzwanashe Kaitano, did their country proud today with a fine opening partnership of 61 in the face of a huge Bangladesh total of 468 on day two of the one-off Ispahani Test match, powered by Toffee, at Harare Sports Club.

Although Shumba was out for 41, Kaitano and Brendan Taylor took the score safely to a very encouraging 114 for one wicket.

The main highlight of the day, though, was the massive ninth-wicket partnership by Mahmudullah and Taskin Ahmed that has given the tourists a big advantage.

Only three wickets fell during the whole day, a remarkable occurrence.

Bangladesh began the day on 294 for eight wickets, with Mahmudullah on 54 and Taskin 13.

The match was in the balance, and it was important for Zimbabwe to finish off the Bangladesh innings quickly, but they were unable to do so.

The first ball of the day was bowled by Victor Nyauchi, a fine delivery that beat the edge of Mahmudullah’s bat.

However, Nyauchi and Blessing Muzarabani did not immediately fall into consistent accuracy and the 300 was soon on the board.

With the score on 339, Richard Ngarava produced a fine ball that took the edge of Taskin’s bat, giving a chance to Shumba at second slip, but he was unable to hold it.

The century partnership came up, and the batsmen grew more confident and aggressive as the century partnership was passed.

Mahmudullah reached his fifth Test century off 195 balls with two successive fours off Roy Kaia, and was soon followed by Taskin’s first Test fifty off 69 balls.

Then came the team’s 400, the first time Bangladesh have reached that total in Zimbabwe.

At lunch the pair were still together at 404 for eight wickets, with Mahmudullah on 112 and Taskin 52.

After the break they continued to build the innings, although on 425 they had a bad misunderstanding over a single, and Zimbabwe missed the chance to run out Taskin.

The huge partnership finally came to an end on 461, after the pair had put on 191 altogether.

Taskin, after playing a wise game for so long, had a huge slog at a ball from Shumba and was comprehensively bowled to end his remarkable innings of 75 off 134 balls, with 11 fours.

This was the second-highest ninth-wicket partnership in Test match history, just behind the 195 scored by Mark Boucher and Pat Symcox of South Africa against Pakistan at Johannesburg in 1997/98.

The last man, Ebadot Hossain, did not last long, and the innings came to an end at 468 as he was trapped lbw by Muzarabani.

Mahmudullah succeeded in reaching exactly 150, a great innings that lasted 278 balls and contained a six and 17 fours.

Muzarabani finished with the best bowling figures of four for 94, while there were two wickets each for Donald Tiripano and Nyauchi.

An early tea break was taken between the innings.

Zimbabwe began their innings with Shumba, in his third Test match, and Kaitano, on his début, against the bowling of Taskin and Hossain.

At first they were both naturally cautious, and Shumba was the first to find his confidence, and just before the afternoon drinks he actually hit four fours off five consecutive balls he received, two each off Hossain and the left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan.

The fast bowler Taskin, though, after his long innings still had energy left to bowl a fine accurate opening spell of eight overs, off which the batsmen scored only two runs.

Shumba was particularly adept at sweeping the spinners, which he did successfully time and again, but this stroke in the end brought about his downfall.

He had made 41 of the opening partnership of 61 when he fatally missed a sweep against Shakib and was out lbw.

Kaitano in the meantime was playing a quiet sensible innings in support, showing good determination and temperament, being on 18 at that stage, and he was now joined by Taylor.

Despite the proximity of the close of play, Taylor began his innings assertively, scoring his first 10 runs off 10 balls and hammering the spinners for three fours.

His aggression gave Kaitano the confidence to play a few more strokes too, and by the close they had taken Zimbabwe to a promising score of 114 for one wicket, with Kaitano on 33 and Taylor 37.

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