Zimbabwe 331 for 5 (Masakadza 154*, Chakabva 75*) trail Bangladesh 433 by 102 runs
KHULNA — Hamilton Masakadza’s career-best 154 not out helped Zimbabwe cruise to 331-5 and trail Bangladesh by only 102 runs on the first innings after three days of the second cricket Test yesterday.
At stumps, Masakadza and Regis Chakabva, 75 not out, had combined for 142 at three an over in response to Bangladesh’s 433.
Masakadza eclipsed his previous best 119 against the West Indies in his debut test in 2001.
It was also Chakabva’s career-best knock. Both of the batsmen defied the Bangladeshi bowler to remain unbeaten throughout the last session.
Shakib Al Hasan was the leading wicket-taker with 3-70 while fellow leg-spinner Taijul Islam claimed 2-94.
Masakadza had struck a ton on Test debut over 13 years ago. He made another when Zimbabwe ended a six-year exile from the longest format in 2011.
Bangladesh were on the receiving end of that innings and would have been wary of his presence even as they broke the middle-order after lunch in Khulna. Zimbabwe were teetering but Masakadza would not let them fall. Not on the day he became their longest practicing Test cricketer.
Bangladesh had dropped him in the second over of the day and watched helplessly as he raised his fourth Test century — a career-best and unbeaten 154 — has whittled the deficit down to 102.
Chakabva struck a defiant half-century and has kept Zimbabwe alive and ticking.
The sixth-wicket pair came together with the score on 189 and there was still a whole session’s play for Bangladesh to exploit. Only there was very little in the pitch for them.
Shakib Al Hasan had adjusted his game plan to suit that and his middle- and off-stump line made sure the batsmen did not have the room to work the ball into gaps. Having built just enough pressure, he would sneak a slider in.
Brendan Taylor and Elton Chigumbura were caught down the leg side and some extra bounce ended Craig Ervine’s nervous stay.
But Zimbabwe wrested the advantage away from Bangladesh with force. Masakadza’s power came in handy, especially off the back foot as his cuts and pulls provided a lot of Zimbabwe’s momentum.
He used it only when the spinners erred – Shakib was launched over midwicket when he bowled short, when there was width off the same length, Masakadza leapt back to slice behind point.
Capitalising on those opportunities ensured Zimbabwe had accumulated 91 runs in the 32 overs after lunch.
Chakabva, who might not have been on this tour had Zimbabwe’s first-choice wicketkeeper Richmond Mutumbami been fit, played a tenacious innings.
It had started out as a cameo — he swept his first ball to the boundary, camped back in his crease to punch anything short as hard as he could and concentrated on dispelling the pressure the spinners were trying to create.
But with each stroke he began gaining confidence and his innings took a more permanent shape. His judgment of length was spot on, as was his judgment to go for a review when he was given out lbw on 7.
The fightback ensured Zimbabwe’s good work at the start of the day meant something. Not that there weren’t any chances, the sixth ball of the morning squared Masakadza up while he was prodding in front of his body, but the edge flew too far to the right of slip.
Shamsur Rahman watched the ball trickle to the third-man boundary and might have wished for an easier opportunity. But when it came three balls later, he was caught napping.
Masakadza trudged forward again with hard hands, but the edge slithered beneath Shamsur’s cupped hands and through his legs.
Masakadza needed time at the crease to become comfortable when the spinners teased him forward. Eventually he had gained enough confidence to race down at Taijul Islam and clobber him over his head.
Taylor though was adept at running at Bangladesh’s spinners to loft them down the ground. Zimbabwe’s two most successful batsmen of the last decade could only put on 67 runs together though.
Taylor’s wicket had been crucial because his intent had rattled Bangladesh’s spinners, and with Masakadza settling down as well they could not build on debutant opener Brian Chari’s ill-advised chip that homed into mid-off’s hands.