Off-spinner Nayeem Hasan claimed 4-68 as Bangladesh battled hard to stay on level term with Zimbabwe in the one-off Test after the opening day’s play in Mirpur on Saturday.
Craig Ervine made a dogged century leading Zimbabwe in the absence off regular captain Sean Williams before Nayeem bowled him for 107 off 227 balls in the penultimate over of the day.
The late strike helped Bangladesh reduce Zimbabwe to 228-6 at stumps and expose their tail finally, giving the beleaguered Bangladesh side some relief as they seek their first win after six consecutive losses.
Zimbabwe looked to be in control once Ervine, who hit 13 fours, put 111-run for the second wicket with opener Prince Masvaure after Abu Jayed scalped opener Kevin Kasuza early for two.
Nayeem, who took Kasuza’s catch at gully, claimed two wickets each in the final two sessions to restore parity in the contest.
He broke the defiant stand by dismissing an obdurate Masvaure for 64 runs with a diving return catch in the post-lunch session soon after the batsman was put down by Nazmul Hossain on 59 at slip.
Nayeem got his biggest reward perhaps in his next over when he bowled Brendan Taylor for 10.
Taylor struck hundred in both innings of his last Test in Mirpur in 2018 and looked in a fine touch once he struck Taijul Islam for a four over mid-off with a lofted drive soon after arriving at the crease.
The shot might have made experienced Taylor overconfident as he opted for a reverse sweep in 12th ball he was facing but only could connect the ball with his gloves before dragging it onto his stumps.
Taylor’s untimely dismissal left Zimbabwe rattled at 134-3, forcing Ervine and Sikandar Raza to concentrate on rebuilding the innings.
Nayeem, who was preferred in the starting line-up ahead of Mehedi Hasan, came to the rescue of Tigers once again as he broke a 40-run stand by forcing Raza (18) to give a catch behind the stumps.
Jayed, widely regarded as the only Test quality pacer in Bangladesh right now, trapped Timcyen Maruma leg before for seven for his second wicket after the batsman was reprieved by TV umpire on one off Taijul.
Ervine, however, continued his impressive batting and helped Zimbabwe amble past 200-run mark, completing his third Test hundred in the process before but he fell prey to Nayeem.
‘I think the wicket was very good today [Saturday]. Bangladesh bowled really well, tight lines consistently. It was just for me to be patient as there was not too much happening with the wicket,” Ervine said after the day’s play.
Ervine’s innings ensured that Bangladesh must now bat well to avoid the embarrassment they suffered against the same opponent one-and-half-year ago in Sylhet.
In November 2018, replying to Zimbabwe’s 282 in the first innings, Bangladesh lost their first four wickets for 19 runs and eventually were all out for 143.
Zimbabwe, who won the game by 151 runs, will try to repeat the act now in Dhaka and they have plenty of reasons to feel motivated against an out-of-sort team, which have not scored 250 runs in their last 10 Test innings.