Zimbabwe face an uphill battle to preserve their one-nil series advantage over Bangladesh heading into the final day of the second Test in Harare. They reached stumps on day four on 138 for four after being set an imposing 401 for victory.
Hamilton Masakadza appears key to their hopes of salvaging at least a draw tomorrow and is unbeaten with 46, with his younger brother, Shingi, who joined him as night-watchman, unbeaten on seven. Masakadza junior was sent in by the home side some 60 minutes before the scheduled close in a surprising move which could have backfired. However, he saw off the threat from Sohag Gazi, Robiul Islam and Ziaur Rahman to offer Zimbabwe the faintest glimmer of hope.
When Malcolm Waller had been fourth man out, bowled by an outswinger from Ziaur, the end could have come quickly, especially if Masakadza had been caught soon afterwards, as he should have been had Bangladesh had their slip fielder in the right position.
The Zimbabwe run chase had earlier started brightly just before tea as Regis Chakabva and Vusi Sibanda added 36 for the first-wicket. However, just before the break Chakabva was beaten by a beauty from Shakib Al Hasan which gripped and turned past his outside edge, knocking over off-stump as he groped forward. Not long after the resumption Shakib struck again. This time no magic was needed as Sibanda gave his wicket away when well set for the umpteenth time in recent history by popping a simple catch to Gazi at short cover.
That brought Brendan Taylor to the crease to partner Masakadza to form the partnership that provided the hosts with the best chance of victory. Unfortunately, they added only 30 before Taylor was trapped on the crease by Ziaur, handing him a memorable maiden Test wicket.
Ziaur bowled well throughout the evening and backed up the ever-dependable Robiul Islam well. With Sohag also looking threatening, extracting appreciable turn, and Shakib always reliable, Zimbabwe face a tough ask tomorrow morning.
They had begun this morning with thoughts of restricting the Bangladesh lead to around 320, but Mushfiqur Rahim and Nasir Hossain soon scotched those. They took their sixth-wicket stand to 84 and the lead to well over 300 before Rahim perished seven short of a deserved century.
Ziaur Rahman gave the worryingly inaccurate Graeme Cremer his first wicket of the innings soon after, but Nasir shepherded the lower-order effectively and completed his second fifty of the contest. The bowling on offer wasn’t particularly threatening - with Kyle Jarvis again out-of-sorts and Keegan Meth injured - and the fields soon went defensive, but Nasir played well until Rahim called him in with the lead standing at exactly 400.
© Cricket World 2013
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