Tigers fight back in Harare


Four wickets late in the day gave Bangladesh hope, but Zimbabwe still went to stumps on day three in control of their one-off Test having taken a handy first-innings lead.

Four wickets late in the day gave Bangladesh hope, but Zimbabwe still went to stumps on day three in control of their one-off Test having taken a handy first-innings lead.

The hosts were cruising at 69 without loss in their second innings after bowling Bangladesh out for 287, but lost four wickets for 23 runs to close on 92 for four – an overall lead of 175.

Tino Mawoyo and Vusi Sibanda had put on another confident opening stand without any drama at all, but a tame dismissal for Sibanda (38) sparked a collapse as he was brilliantly caught by Tamim Iqbal at midwicket off the bowling of Rubel Hossain.

Robiul Islam replaced Hossain and struck in his first over, getting a touch of movement into the right-handed Mawoyo (35) to send his off stump cartwheeling.

Suddenly there were nerves among the Zimbabwe batsmen and Hamilton Masakadza and Brendan Taylor looked to bat for stumps. It didn't work out though, with Masakadza offering a tame return catch to Shakib Al Hasan and nightwatchman Ray Price trapped lbw by Abdur Razzak in the fading light.

It was a good fightback from Bangladesh, who had collapsed from 246 for five to 287 all out as Zimbabwe's bowlers used the second new ball to good effect.

Brian Vitori finished with four wickets in his debut innings of international cricket, while Chris Mpofu justified Taylor's decision to give him the second new ball ahead of Kyle Jarvis.

Vitori had already dismissed both openers on day two, and removed Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim to finish with figures of 4 for 66 when the tourists were all out on the stroke of tea.

However it was Mpofu who broke through Bangladesh's defiant middle order, breaking a 56-run partnership for the sixth wicket between Shakib and Mushfiqur.

Bangladesh had looked set to overhaul Zimbabwe's total of 370, but Mpofu was rewarded for some sharp bowling in the first session with the fresh cherry ahead of Jarvis and struck in his second over.

Shakib was caught behind for 68 when he was cramped for room, and Mpofu made it a double breakthrough when he trapped Abdur Razzak lbw four overs later.

That left Bangladesh's lower order exposed, and after Mushfiqur (27) had pulled Vitori straight to deep square leg, Jarvis and Price wrapped up the last two wickets.

Jarvis endured more bad luck when he had a third catch dropped off his bowling, but deservedly grabbed his first Test wicket when he uprooted Shafiul Islam's off stump.

The innings was brought to a close when Robiul Islam made the mistake of padding up to a straight one from Price, who finished with figures of 2 for 34.

The two sides had shared the honours on the third morning, with Bangladesh making good progress but losing two wickets along the way.

The tourists resumed on 107 for three and added 93 runs in the opening session, but lost overnight batsmen Mahmudullah (13) and Mohammad Ashraful (73) to reach lunch on 200 for five with the second new ball just seven overs away.

Vitori was again the man making the initial breakthrough, switching to bowl round the wicket to the right-handers to change the angle, with the tactic working when he came from wide on the crease and saw Mahmudullah slap a pull shot straight to midwicket.

Ashraful had enjoyed a stroke of fortune when on 47 as a sliced drive looped over Vusi Sibanda at point and just eluded the fielder as he tried to take the catch over his shoulder.

Ashraful duly went to fifty in 123 balls before opening up, but threw it all away after more than four hours of patience when a tame dab at an Elton Chigumbura delivery provided catching practice for Tatenda Taibu behind the stumps.

<b>Tristan Holme</b> in Harare