Bangladesh 143 and 111 for 5 (Imrul 43, Raza 3-41) need another 210 runs to beat Zimbabwe 282 and 181 (Masakadza 48, Taijul 5-62)
Bangladesh are chasing their first Test win in five years after having Bangladesh five down by lunch on day four in Sylhet. For that, they have Sikandar Raza to thank. The offspinner bowled 17 overs on the trot to nip out three giant strikes as Bangladesh slipped and slid on the face of a daunting target on a tricky surface where there was enough turn to keep the spinners interested.
Raza, who took three wickets in the first innings, looked threatening all session, with Bangladesh’s batsman paying the price for indecision. They were tottering at 111 for 5, having lost debutant Nazmul Hossain Shanto to a long-hop to give fellow debutant Brandon Mavuta a wicket when he slapped one straight to Raza – who else – at cover point in the final over before lunch.
While the spinners enjoyed four wickets between them, Kyle Jarvis extracted bounce and some late movement to have Mominul Haque chop on earlier in the session.
The only semblance of support for Bangladesh came in the form of Imrul Kayes, who looked solid in his 43 until a grave mistake cost him. Looking to paddle sweep Raza, he played too early and was bowled round his legs. Before Imrul fell, Liton Das, with whom he put on a half-century opening stand – Bangladesh’s first in Tests since January – was out lbw. Originally given not out, Hamilton Masakadza reviewed and stood vindicated when ball tracking showed the missed pull to a short delivery would’ve crashed into middle and leg.
The opening pair survived three chances in total. Brendan Taylor put down a tough chance at first slip off Jarvis to repirve Imrul, while Brian Chari couldn’t latch on to two tough chances – one at silly point and the other at short leg – off both openers. Mominul struck two crisp boundaries but his woeful run continued when he misjudged the length of a Jarvis delivery that rattled his stumps.
Bangladesh needed a rally from their captain, but they didn’t get one. Average close to seven in his last six Test innings, Mahmudullah was a picture of doubt at the crease. Caught in two minds – of pulling or paddling – he was out as the ball lobbed off his gove to short leg. It completed a full-blown collapse to give the visitors more than a ray of hope heading into the second session, after what has so far been a winless tour.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84
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