Zimbabwean batsman Sean Williams continued his magnificent form by scoring 88 runs to lead a Zimbabwe batting revival before hosts Bangladesh restored parity with Willam’s wicket on the opening day of the two-match Test series opener on Saturday.
At stumps, the visitors were 236 for 5 wickets after winning the toss at the picturesque Sylhet International Cricket Stadium.Left arm spinner Taijul Islams’ 2 wickets had reduced Zimbabwe to 85 runs for 3 wickets, only for Williams and Peter Moor to add 72 runs in the fifth wicket.
The visitors were set to end the day in a commanding position but could not do so due to Tiger skipper Mahmudullah removing Williams before stumps.
Zimbabwe who were humiliated by Bangladesh in the recently concluded ODI series, looked set to have their decision to bat first vindicated as their skipper Hamilton Masakadza and Williams handled Bangladeshi spinner admirably.
Earlier the visitors were in trouble at 85 runs for 2 wickets at lunch.
Taijul took all those wickets en route to figures of 2 wickets for 86 runs in 27 overs. Tigers kept the visitors under pressure when they removed Masakadza after lunch break.
Masakadza hit four boundaries and two sixes in his 52 runs knock before being trapped by pacer Abu Jayed.Taijul drew the first blood in Zimbabwe’s innings sending back opener Brian Chari when he went for a slog in just the 11th over of the day. Then he had Brendan Taylor who was caught by Nazmul Hossain at short leg.
Masakadza and Williams made sure Zimbabwe went to lunch without further damage, but shortly after the break, they lost Masakadza.
Williams and Sikandar Raza put on a 44-run stand for the fourth wicket before debutant Nazmul Islam Apu claimed his maiden Test wicket by deceiving Sikandar Raza for 19 runs.
But a fifth-wicket partnership of 72 runs between WIlliams and Moor (37*), that spanned nearly 30 overs, revived Zimbabwe.
Williams looked on course for a century until he played a rare lazy defensive stroke to Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah’s off-spin, getting a thick edge to first slip, where Mehedi Hasan took an excellent catch, Zimbabwe slipping to 201 runs for 5 wickets.
The classy Williams’ innings was filled with textbook shots including 9 fours.
Regis Chakabva and Moor then managed to keep the bowlers at bay solidly as ended the day without further loss.
Wicketkeeper Chakabva was batting on 20 runs.
Sylhet is hosting its first-ever Test match, becoming the sixth city and eighth venue in Bangladesh to host a Test match.
Zimbabwe, who have played just eight Tests since their last tour to Bangladesh four years ago, are playing their first this year.
Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) director and ex-cricketers inaugurated the brand new Test venue by flying balloons and ringing the iconic ‘Five-minute Bell’.
Ariful Haque and Nazmul Islam Apu are playing their maiden Test for Bangladesh while Brandon Mavuta and Wellington Masakadza made their Test debut for Zimbabwe.
Local hero Abu Jayed Rahi got the new ball and bowled the first ball of the day to become part of history.