Sun, 29 Mar 2020

Zimbabwe lose two after Mushfiqur Rahim's 203

ESPNCricInfo
24 Feb 2020, 22:42 GMT+10

6:27 AM ET

Stumps Zimbabwe 265 (Ervine 107, Nayeem 4-70) and 9 for 2 (Kasuza 8*, Nayeem 2-4) trail Bangladesh 560 for 6 declared (Mushfiqur 203*, Mominul 132) by 286 runs

Mushfiqur Rahim's third Test double hundred, alongside Mominul Haque's first Test ton as captain, helped Bangladesh soar to 560 for 6 dec on day three in Mirpur and take control of the match.

The pair added 222 for the fourth wicket against a wilting Zimbabwean attack, and after Mominul was eventually prised from the crease Mushfiqur batted on (and on) extending Bangladesh's lead to a massive 295 before the declaration came. This is Bangladesh's second-highest first-innings lead; the highest being 397 batting first against West Indies in October 2018. Their utter domination with the bat was followed up with the ball, and a double strike from Nayeem Hasan in the very first over of Zimbabwe's second innings left the visitors staring at a potentially massive innings defeat.

The signs were ominous for Zimbabwe when, having taken a couple of overs to settle themselves this morning, Mushfiqur and Mominul eased through the gears and peppered the boundary almost at will. Mushfiqur favoured the glide through gully as he found both the pace of Zimbabwe's bowlers and the benign nature of the pitch very much to his liking.

Displaying faultless judgment, he raised his 50, 100, 150 and 200 with boundaries, all of which were either slapped through point or guided through the gully, with the third man position left vacant for much of the day.

Together the pair motored Bangladesh ahead of Zimbabwe's first-innings effort with only three wickets down, and the arrival of the second new ball seemed only to galvanise their efforts. Mominul slotted the cleanest of drives through extra cover to raise his ninth Test ton, drawing level with Tamim Iqbal in that regard and also equalling Craig Ervine's captain's knock: this is the first time in Tests that two players have made their first hundreds as Test captains in the same game.

Backed into a corner and out of options, Zimbabwe reverted to an extremely defensive mode of bowling in an effort to rein in the rampant batsmen. The seamers switched to an around-the-stumps angle, repeatedly pushing the ball across and well wide of Mushfiqur. His patience held firm, but the scoring rate dropped: having gone 30 overs without bowling a single maiden, Zimbabwe finally managed to string the dots together and add some frustration to proceedings.

Aiming to break free with a lofted drive, Mominul didn't get the elevation he wanted and left-arm spinner Ainsley Ndlovu stuck his hands up to hold a stinging return catch to dismiss him, finally, for 132.

That was Ndlovu's maiden Test wicket, and he soon had a second as Mohammad Mithun feathered an edge behind. But a focused Mushfiqur only dug in in response, extending Zimbabwe's pain, and found an able partner in Liton Das, adding a further 111 for the sixth wicket.

Having reached a composed fifty, Liton edged an attempted dab off Raza to present another chance, with wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva holding his fifth catch: the most by a wicketkeeper in a Test innings at this ground. Indeed, his performance behind the stumps was one of the few bright points for Zimbabwe.

But still Mushfiqur wasn't done, and while Taijul Islam had some fun with some big shots at the other end, he continued nervelessly to a record third double hundred, reaching the milestone with his 28th boundary and celebrating in emotive fashion. No-one has scored as many doubles for Bangladesh as him, and in the course of his knock he also became Bangladesh's leading all-time run-scorer in this format, passing Tamim Iqbal.

That brought the declaration, finally, but the nightmare was not yet over for Zimbabwe. Opening the bowling, Nayeem zipped his second ball straight through Prince Masvaure's defences, and then found the edge of nightwatchman Tiripano's bat immediately afterwards to find himself on a hat-trick. Brendan Taylor survived the hat-trick ball, but Bangladesh are now in complete control of the match.

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