Zimbabwe 276 and 140 for 3 (Taylor 92, Myers 18*) trail Bangladesh 468 and 284 for 1 dec (Shanto 117*, Shadman 115*) by 337 runs
Bangladesh scented victory in their Test against Zimbabwe, having got rid of a rampant Brendan Taylor late on the fourth day, to take command of the game. The Zimbabwe captain smacked a 73-ball 92, keeping the visiting side on the back foot for much of the evening session. Eventually, the home side went to stumps at 140 for 3, still 337 runs adrift of the 477-run target Bangladesh had set them.
Taylor ridiculously dominated the 95-run second wicket stand with Takudzwanashe Kaitano, who contributed just two runs. He struck 16 fours, plenty of them in the range between cover to right behind the bowler, with a few struck through the legside.
Bangladesh had set up the target after Shadman Islam and Nazmul Islam Shanto added 196 runs, Bangladesh’s highest second-wicket stand against Zimbabwe breaking the 121 between Javed Omar and Habibul Bashar from 2001.
Shanto made 117 off 118 with five fours and six sixes while Shadman struck nine fours in his 115 off 196 balls. Shanto hit the most sixes in an innings in Zimbabwe.
The home side lost Milton Shumba before the tea break, when substitute Yasir Ali caught him at second slip off Taskin Ahmed. Yasir, who was fielding in place of the injured Mushfiqur Rahim, has now taken six catches without playing a Test yet.
Taylor got into action almost immediately, cracking Taskin for two fours through the legside, before launching Shakib Al Hasan over mid-off with the full flow of the bat.
Then came two Taylor specials, the first a punch off his toes through the covers, before going low, still creaming it through the covers. He ended the over with a ramp over the slips. Two more fours in the following over, off Mehidy Hasan Miraz, took Taylor to his fifty off 33 balls.
When Taylor reached 57, Kaitano finally opened his account off his 39th ball, taking a single off Ebadat Hossain to fine leg. Taylor continued unabated at the other end, hitting the fast bowler for three more fours in his next two overs.
Ebadat, however, dropped a catch that was reminiscent of Joe Denly’s drop in Sri Lanka last year. As Kaitano top edged Miraz, the ball looped over Ebadat who didn’t have to move, but it slipped through his reverse cup, much to everyone’s shock.
Miraz however got the job done, getting Taylor caught and bowled almost against the run of play, the batsman falling eight runs short of a hundred.
Kaitano fell a little while later, lbw to Shakib as he played back to an arm ball. He faced 102 balls, hitting one four, in a stonewalling display. Dion Meyers struck two sixes before Kaitano’s dismissal, the second of which was a nice clean straight hit.
Shadman added 88 runs for the opening stand with Saif Hassan. The pair kept things quiet in the first hour with Saif’s hammer over the covers being their only aggressive shot. Shadman played couple of nice cover drives, but once Shanto came to the crease, business picked up.
Saif meanwhile made 43 off 95 balls with six fours, getting out when Myers caught him at gully off Richard Ngarava.
But that was the only wicket Zimbabwe took in the innings as Shadman and Shanto raced off. Shadman reached his century first, off 180 balls, an innings long time coming after he made his debut against West Indies in 2018.
Shanto wasn’t too far behind, hitting Roy Kaia for five sixes, mostly straight down the ground and one through wide long-off. Two sixes in the same over got him from 85 to 97, before he took a single and ran for two more to get to his century off 109 balls.
Shanto’s sixth six – pulled off Shumba – was when Mominul Haque called back the two batters.
Zimbabwe’s bowlers didn’t have a great time, having conceded the most runs in taking one wicket in a Test innings. Their four-pronged pace attack bowled steadily at best, but since they were mostly waiting for Bangladesh’s declaration, Taylor employed Shumba and Kaia for 25.4 overs, going for 151 runs.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84