BY DARREN T CHIKWIRA
On a bright chilly Harare day, Bangladesh started the day on 45-0 with a commanding lead of 237. They would have loved to kick on and the openers atone for their poor first innings showing. They began tentatively for the first 5 odd overs getting warmed up. Once they were warm on a true and flat pitch, runs began to pick the gaps and play with a bit of more authority. Boundaries began to flow and the lead ballooning. It was due to the ever so inconsistent bowling from the Zimbabweans and confidence and control from the Bangladesh Tigers. It took a moment of brilliance from debutant Myers who took a sharp catch off the bowling of Ngarava “Three Ships” as he is affectionately known. Saif Hasan out for 43. The lead then had gone on to 280.
Shanto another man who didn’t contribute much in the first innings came to the crease. He started off cautiously but grew into the game. Anik, Shanto’s partner reached 50 and from there it was now the Bangladesh show. Both batsmen took control of the game flaying the ball to all parts of the ground making the Zimbabweans mere spectators.
In no time Shanto reached 50, particularly taking the liking to Kaia, who at one stage chuckled at him as if to suggest he had run out of words from the beating he was taking. By this time the hosts were on their knees begging for the Tigers to put them out of their misery by declaring. The declaration finally came, but not before Anik and Shanto both reached 100+ each. Anik ended unbeaten on 115 and Shanto unbeaten on 117. The pair had grown the lead past 300, 350, 400 and 450 that’s how good they played and briskly too. Zimbabwe had their work cut out and only a draw was highly likely but stranger things have happened in cricket.
The response from the Chevrons couldn’t have started any worse than it did as they lost opener Shumba very early. Then came the Maverick himself captain fantastic Brendan Taylor. The term “flat track bully” has been sometimes loosely used in the cricketing world. It also has been used appropriately for cricketers who perform big mainly on flat tracks but struggle on other ones. In this instance Taylor was a literal flat track bully as he bullied the Bangladeshi bowlers on a flat track. It seemed as if he was in a hurry to go somewhere as he was striking the ball as if it was a t20 match. His strokeplay was immaculate he became AB De Villiers 2.0, Mr 360 hitting the ball all over the park. The Tigers could just stand in awe and admire this innings.
Taylor was such in a belligerent mood he even ramped the impressive Taskin over the slips not so much to his amusement but the cricket fraternity would take that all day long. He equalled Zimbabwe’s fastest test 50 in just 33 balls. On the other hand Kaitano was solid as a rock getting his very first run after facing 37 deliveries. It was a fascinating period of play, on the other end we would see “AB De Villiers” and on the other end “Rahul Dravid”. Taylor continued on his merry way. The Kaitano-Taylor was as lopsided as lopsided can ever be. It quickly got to 95 with Kaitano only contributing 2 runs. “Baba Mason”, “BT” “Ba Mason” as he is also known, Taylor eventually chipped the ball back to Mehedy Hasan for 92, 8 runs short of what would have been test century number 7 and 6 vs Bangladesh. He seemed caught in two minds as the ball got to him and that proved his downfall, Zim 106-2.
Myers came to the crease and showed great intent but also solid play. In his short stint before close of play he had hit 2 big sixes off the spinners. Kaitano went back to a ball that goes on with the arm from Shakib, beaten for pace the opener was trapped LBW for 7 off a walloping 105 balls. Donald Tiripano came into bat as the night-watchman to help guide Zimbabwe to 134-3 at stumps still needing 343 runs for victory with 7 wickets in hand.
Heading into day 5 Bangladesh still remain firm favourites to win the match but would have to go through Tiripano who played a fighting innings vs Afghanistan which almost forced a draw and the middle order which would want to put on a better showing than last time. But if history is anything to go by it should be a walk in the park for Bangladesh on day 5 which surely be gripping and entertaining whilst being an emotional rollercoaster.