Tamim 50 keeps Zimbabwe at bay

Tamim Iqbal
Tamim Iqbal

KHULNA — The resolve of the Bangladesh batsmen has been under question in recent times and some more arose after early dismissals in the first two sessions, but Tamim Iqbal’s restrained half-century kept a disciplined Zimbabwe at bay in Khulna.

A strike-rate of 29,60 is not often associated with Tamim; none of his previous 20 50-plus scores have come that slowly. He tried hard not to be sucked in offside traps, and a majority of his runs came when the bowlers were frustrated into bowling too straight at him.

It wasn’t quite a chanceless innings though. He was beaten when the errant drive on the up made an appearance and a ripper from Malcolm Waller took the shoulder of his bat, but the keeper couldn’t convert the chance. But those lapses only steeled him further.

He collected 72 runs for the second wicket with Mominul Haque and 95 for the third with Mahmudullah.

Bangladesh were watchful by default, but they needed that approach against Natsai M’shangwe, the debutant legspinner, who combined drift with turn. The pitch afforded him another weapon in the form of variable bounce.

He was particularly threatening against Mahmudullah, whose eagerness to drive through the covers had him playing and missing. But M’shangwe’s control against left-handers was not as consistent, and he was left still searching for a maiden Test wicket.

He was tiring as well, having bowled all of his 24 overs continuously with only the lunch and tea breaks to replenish him.

With M’shangwe needing rest, Zimbabwe hoped to exploit a slow and turning pitch with their part-time spinners but Mahmudullah had settled down — he was comfortable spending 26 overs without a boundary before his third four took him past fifty — and Tamim weathered cramps on his right hand to keep the visitors at bay.

The 250-ball effort was his longest Test innings.


Zimbabwe recognised the importance of the new ball on a flat pitch and worked the batsmen in the off-stump corridor. The ploy had dragged Shamsur Rahman a little too far across and the change-up inswinger from Elton Chigumbura halted him in his tracks.

The batsman was struck below the knee-roll while on the move and was reprieved by umpire Billy Bowden, but not by DRS. A similar delivery did Mahmudullah with the second new ball.

Half of the first 10 overs were maidens, and two of those on the run preceded the wicket-taking over, but Bangladesh did well not to fall prey to a stagnant scoreboard. The pitch held enough moisture for the seamers to justify the caution from Mominul and Tamim.

And the odd ball zipping past the outside edge of a drive on the up was enough of a reminder for them not to worry about a run-rate of 2.13 in the morning. The rate at the end of the day was 2.14.

The seamers hoped to unsettle the batsmen with the odd scrambled-seam delivery. Tinashe Panyangara succeeded in getting a back-of-a-length ball to hold up on the pitch and Mominul’s punch ended up as a return catch in the ninth over after lunch.

Zimbabwe would have been doubly pleased with that wicket considering they did not review an lbw shout against Mominul from M’shangwe that HawkEye revealed would have hit the stumps.

Not that Bangladesh’s natural instincts were completely subdued. Tamim unfurled a stunning cover drive against Chigumbura in the 12th over and one of a similar class in the 79th.

Mahmudullah displayed his range when he raced down the track to loft M’shangwe over his head and then leaped back against Waller to crack him through the covers.

Brendan Taylor, the Zimbabwe captain, will hope his men can follow the hosts’ example, especially after he had bolstered his batting line-up at the cost of a bowler.

Brendan Taylor works it away to the leg side, Zimbabwe v Afghanistan, 1st ODI, Bulawayo, July 18, 2014
Brendan Taylor

John Nyumbu, the offspinner, had bowled only 16 overs in the first Test and was dropped in favour of Waller. Brian Chari, with an average of 20.62 in 23 first-class matches, got a Test debut and forced Vusi Sibanda to the sidelines.

M’shangwe was a straight swap for Tafadzwa Kamungozi.

Bangladesh sat Al-Amin Hossain aside for the local boy Rubel Hossain, but the more marked change was in how their batsmen ground the opposition down over by over by over.

— Cricinfo