Taylor smashes quick-fire fifty as Zimbabwe face mammoth task
Bangladesh – 468 and 284-1 in 67.4 overs (Najmul Hossain Shanto 117*, Shadman Islam 115*, Saif Hassan 43; Richard Ngarava 1/36)
Zimbabwe – 276 and 140-3 in 40 overs (Brendan Taylor 92, Dion Myers 18*, Milton Shumba 11; Shakib Al Hasan 1/23, Taskin Ahmed 1/39, Mehidy Hasan Miraz 1/45)
Day 4 – Stumps: Zimbabwe need 337 runs
Brendan Taylor hammered the Bangladesh bowling today as he equalled the record for the fastest Test fifty by a Zimbabwe player on day four of the one-off match against the tourists at Harare Sports Club.
He reached his half-century off just 33 deliveries, matching Andy Blignaut’s effort against Pakistan in 2002.
With Zimbabwe needing 477 to win, Taylor – who had scored 81 off 92 balls in the first innings of this match – blitzed his way to 92 off 73 deliveries before the day closed with the home side on 140 for three.
Bangladesh began the day on 45 for no wicket in their second innings, a lead of 237 runs, with their opening batsmen Shadman Islam on 22 and Saif Hassan on 20.
With plenty of time in hand, and with the pitch showing signs of uneven bounce, especially in keeping low at times, the batsmen played a canny game and waited for the loose balls to score from.
The batsmen seemed to be well settled when Saif cut a ball from Richard Ngarava, only for Dion Myers in the gully to leap to his left and hold a brilliant catch.
He was out for 43 and the score was 88 for one.
Shadman stayed in and soon reached his fifty off 101 balls, his partner now being Najmul Hossain Shanto.
Having held a brilliant catch, Myers then dropped an easier chance in the gully from a cut by Shadman off the bowling of Donald Tiripano.
Shanto came down the pitch and hit Roy Kaia for a huge straight six, and was obviously looking to increase the scoring rate rapidly.
By lunch Bangladesh had reached 169 for one wicket, a lead of 361 – Shadman had 72 and Shanto 47.
Immediately after lunch Shanto reached his fifty, which took him 60 balls.
Another chance went down in the field when Taylor at slip dropped a chance from Shanto on 71, off the bowling of Milton Shumba.
Shadman reached his first Test century soon afterwards, off 182 balls, a fine innings.
Shanto hit Kaia for two straight sixes in three balls to take his score to 97, and a few minutes later reached his second Test century, which came off only 109 balls.
Bangladesh carried on batting for a few more minutes before they declared at 284 for one wicket, a lead of 476 runs, with the partnership between the two century-makers having put on 196 runs.
Shadman finished with 115 not out off 196 balls, with nine fours, and Shanto with 117 not out off only 118 balls, with five fours and six sixes.
The Zimbabwe pace bowlers, although not troubling the batsmen unduly, had kept the scoring rate within bounds, with Blessing Muzarabani the most economical, his 12 overs costing only 27 runs.
The only wicket was taken by Ngarava, whose figures were one for 36 off nine overs.
Bangladesh gave their left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan the new ball to bowl to Zimbabwe’s opening pair of Shumba and Takudzwanashe Kaitano.
Shakib went up with his whole team in a frenzied appeal for lbw against Kaitano in the first over, but umpire Langton Rusere rejected it.
Replays showed the point of impact was just outside the off stump, confirming another excellent decision by the Zimbabwean umpire.
Mehidy Hasan Miraz, the off-spinner, took the new ball opposite Shakib, and Shumba drove him for two beautiful cover drives in his first three balls.
After two overs from Mehidy, Bangladesh turned to pace, and Taskin Ahmed struck with his second ball, moving away off the pitch, and Shumba (11) edged a catch to third slip; 15 for one.
Taylor’s first ball from Taskin was a half-volley that he drove past mid-on for four.
At lunch Zimbabwe were 25 for one wicket, with Taylor on 10 and Kaitano still to score after facing 26 balls.
Afterwards Kaitano continued to defend while Taylor continued to attack, hitting one boundary after another.
On 42 he gave a difficult chance to the keeper off his glove, and then reached his fifty off only 33 balls, with 10 fours.
This equals the fifty scored by Blignaut against Pakistan in Harare in 2002/03.
After reaching his fifty, Taylor did have quiet periods for a few balls before breaking out into aggression again.
After 72 runs had been scored, Kaitano finally scored his first run, a nudge to fine leg off his pads.
Before he scored again he was dropped off a weak flick to a leg-side ball that went straight to Ebadot Hossain.
Taylor was on course for Zimbabwe’s fastest Test century – 103 balls by Neil Johnson against Pakistan at Peshawar in 1997/98 – when for about the first time he checked a stroke and sent a simple return catch to Mehidy.
He had made 92 off 73 balls, with 16 fours, out of a partnership of 95 with Kaitano, and the score was now 112 for two wickets.
Kaitano was at this stage on two not out, but as Myers came in he opened his shoulders against Mehidy and drove him past mid-on for four.
Myers soon overtook him, though, as he pulled a short ball from Shakib over square leg for six.
After having done such a fine job again for his team, especially in passive support while Taylor hit, it was disappointing to see Kaitano departing.
He hit across the line to a straight ball from Shakib and was trapped lbw for seven, scored off 102 balls; 132 for three.
Donald Tiripano came in as night-watchman and saw out the day with Myers, the batsmen being unbeaten with seven and 18 respectively at the close.