Wed, 12 Dec 2018
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Kathmandu

Mominul, Mushfiqur wrest control after early jitters

ESPNCricInfo
11 Nov 2018, 18:42 GMT+10

3:00 AM ET

Tea Bangladesh 207 for 3 (Mominul 115*, Mushfiqur 71*, Jarvis 2-40) v Zimbabwe

Mominul Haque struck a fluent, stroke-filled 115, and alongside Mushfiqur Rahim, rebuilt Bangladesh's innings to wrest back the initiative with a 181-run stand that stretched unbroken through to tea. Their partnership was Bangladesh's best for the fourth wicket in Tests, and it progressed in increasingly dominant fashion as Zimbabwe's bowlers struggled to maintain any consistency.

Mominul had not passed fifty for eight innings before this one, but he shrugged off indifferent form to lead the fightback and bring up his seventh Test hundred from just 150 deliveries. As a result, the second session of the day stood in stark contrast to the first. In the morning, Bangladesh struggled to 56 for 3, but after lunch Mominul and Mushfiqur motored through their stand largely untroubled, scoring 151 runs in the session at more than four an over.

Zimbabwe had gained the upper hand with their early incisions, but they let their position of strength slip in the face of proactive batting. Neither the visiting quicks nor the spinners were able to maintain their control after the interval, and both batsmen benefited from the erratic lines.

While Mushfiqur was content absorbing any pressure and then dissipating it whenever a bad ball came his way, Mominul took the attack to Zimbabwe's bowlers, using his feet particularly aggressively to the spinners. A rasping cut off Sean Williams took Mominul to fifty in the 37th over with his seventh boundary, and as the pitch eased in the afternoon sunshine, his innings continued to gain momentum.

Mushfiqur profited particularly from the cut, collecting boundaries through point off Jarvis and Williams, and brought up his own fifty from exactly 100 deliveries in the 43rd over of the day. Importantly, both batsmen's boundaries were also punctuated by lots of singles and excellent running that slowly but surely transferred the pressure back onto Zimbabwe.

Mominul whipped a full toss from Sikandar Raza through midwicket to bring up his ton in the 55th over of the day, and rode his luck to slash his 14th boundary over a leaping point fielder at the stroke of tea.

Bangladesh had been in dire need of something special from the pair after slipping to 26 for 3 in the morning, the top order stumbling when challenged by the tight lines and subtle changes of length from Zimbabwe's new-ball bowlers.

Jarvis and Chatara gave Liton Das and Imrul Kayes a thorough working over in the first half hour, Liton surviving a caught-behind decision through judicious use of a review in the second over. Imrul's painstaking 16-ball stay ended when Jarvis found the inside edge of his bat and wicketkeeper Regis Chakabva tumbled to his right to hold onto a diving catch.

Liton followed in Jarvis' next over, chipping an easy catch to Mavuta at short midwicket, while debutant Mohammad Mithun jabbed nervously at a full, wide outswinger from Donald Tiripano to present Brendan Taylor with an easy chance at second slip, his first Test innings ending in a horrendous shot and a four-ball duck.

Bangladesh avoided more serious strife when Mominul survived a dropped chance on 9, cutting hard but in the air towards Brian Chari at point. The fielder put in a brilliant effort, stretching to his left with the ball going over his head, but couldn't quite hold on. Unfazed, Mominul continued to inject life into Bangladesh's innings, striking four boundaries in the first session: one each through gully, midwicket, cover and mid-off.

If anything, he only struck the ball even more cleanly in the afternoon, and together with a steady Mushfiqur, laid the platform for a massive first-innings score in Dhaka.

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