Bangladesh 27 for1 trail Zimbabwe 240 (Raza 51, Shakib 6-59) by 213 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Shakib Al Hasan exploited the significant bounce and turn on offer on a first-day pitch in Mirpur to take six wickets on his comeback from a two-and-a-half month disciplinary suspension imposed by the BCB. His performance – the highlight of which was a relentless accuracy – helped Bangladesh dismiss Zimbabwe for a below-par total, and underlined his value to a team that has not won a Test or one-day international in 2014.
Before Shakib resumed his familiar starring role for Bangladesh, however, 19-year old debutant Jubair Hossain, the first specialist legspinner to play Test cricket for the country, had displayed a bag full of variations. His two top-order scalps, and left-armer Taijul Islam’s one, took the spinners’ wicket tally to nine. Batting was a constant struggle – a few deliveries stayed low, most bounced sharply, there was always a degree of spin, and the ball never came on to the bat – and Zimbabwe played their shots to get what they could before being dismissed in the last hour of the day.
Given that Bangladesh are likely to bat last on this surface, a first-innings lead will be crucial to their chances of winning, but they lost Tamim Iqbal cheaply to a short-of-a-length delivery that rose sharply from Tinashe Panyangara, who was also returning to the Zimbabwe team after an expulsion for disciplinary reasons. Tamim fended the lifter to slips and it was left to the inexperienced second-wicket pair of Shamsur Rahman and Mominul Haque to see their team through to stumps.
Despite Bangladesh’s wretched form this year, they began this series as favourites, a view that was strengthened when fast bowler Shahadat Hossain struck off the fifth ball of the match, drawing an edge from Vusi Sibanda with a delivery that moved late. The crowd at the Shere Bangla National Stadium was sparse at the start but cheered vociferously when Shakib came on to bowl the eighth over. He began with two maidens and when Hamilton Masakadza tried to break free in the spinner’s third over, the attempt at clearing the straight boundary landed in Jubair’s hands at mid-off.
At 31 for 2, Brendan Taylor’s decision to bat seemed to be backfiring, but he played a part in steadying the innings. Realising the importance of Taylor’s wicket, Bangladesh reviewed a bat-pad decision that went against Shakib but replays indicated no edge.
Zimbabwe’s other opener Sikandar Raza also had his moments, stepping out to a flighted delivery to lift Shakib over cover, and using the depth of his crease to turn the strike over. He had some luck, though, when a top-edged pull fell short of the fielder at fine leg.
Jubair had bowled the last over before lunch and in his first after the break, he ended the third-wicket stand on 52. The flighted delivery dipped sharply and Taylor scooped it straight to mid-off, leaving Zimbabwe 83 for 3. For a teenager with only two first-class matches worth of experience, Jubair bowled an accurate length around off stump, and mixed legbreaks with the occasional googly that turned significantly. One googly pitched outside off and spun to hit Elton Chigumbura on the back pad, but the turn was so much that the ball would have missed leg stump by a long way.
Raza had become more watchful after lunch and he brought up his second half-century in his second Test by sweeping Shakib for four. He did not push on though and was done in by a dipping legbreak from Jubair that he spooned to cover. Shakib had Chigumbura caught soon after – Mominul Haque diving forward at silly point to reduce Zimbabwe to 142 for 5.
Craig Ervine, playing his first international game since March 2013 because he had made himself unavailable to Zimbabwe when offered only a winter contract, put on 50 with Regis Chakabva, but both batsmen fell in quick succession. Taijul had not bowled in the second session and he struck in his first after tea, having Ervine caught at bat-pad. Shakib then had Chakabva caught off a delivery that spun and bounced viciously, lobbing off the glove to slip.
When Panyangara top-edged a sweep to deep backward square leg, Shakib completed his first five-wicket haul against Zimbabwe, giving him a five-for against every team he’s played. He has not yet faced Australia in a Test.