Najmul Hossain Shanto and Shadman Islam both hit hundreds on Saturday as Bangladesh turned the screw against Zimbabwe on day four of the single test at Harare Sports Club.
Opener Shadman made a steady 115 step while Najmul was more daring with his unbeaten 117 but it was home captain Brendan Taylor who produced the most amazing innings of the day with 92 of 73 balls as Zimbabwe set out in search of a monumental and highly unlikely victory target of 477.
Zimbabwe had reached 170-3 at the close, still 337 short of what would be a record goal, leaving Bangladesh well positioned to wrap up the win on Sunday.
The West Indies hold the world record for a successful fourth inning pursuit, reaching a goal of 418 points set while visiting Australia 18 years ago.
Recovering from an unbeaten 45 in his second round, the Bangladesh forerunners increased their partnership to 88 before Saif Hassan was picked up in the ravine by Dyon Myers off Richard Ngarava’s bowling alley.
It was to be Zimbabwe’s only success with the ball as Najmul joined Shadman in an unbroken second-wicket partnership of 196 before the declaration with Bangladesh on 284-1.
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There was a stark contrast in the way Shadman compiled his first century of testing and Najmul his second ton.
Shadman hit nine fours in an inning that spanned 196 balls while Najmul went after the weary attack, scoring and hitting five fours and six sixes, the most innings in Zimbabwe.
As the two batsmen feasted, Zimbabwe’s six bowlers grew increasingly discouraged, especially Roy Kaia, who conceded 84 points on 13 overs.
It was a horrible day in the midwinter sun for the host, and the mood got even darker when he hit and opener Milton Shumba edged out Taskin Ahmed to replace Yasir Ali in the second slip for 11.
This brought in substitute captain Taylor, who had smashed a nice 82 in the opening innings.
It was even more glorious, as he launched himself on the bowlers of Bangladesh, taking full advantage of an attacking ground.
Taylor has a history with Bangladesh, having scored five of his six centuries of testing against the team. He looked certain to go six of seven as he scored 16 limits in his rapid-fire 92.
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Such was his dominance that opener Takudzwanashe Kaitano only stood out when the total was 72 and contributed just two in a 95 second wicket partnership.
Taylor ran into his half-century in a record-breaking 33 balls for a Zimbabwean, but his innings ended in an anti-climax when he checked his shot as Mehidy Hasan Miraz served a juicy throw to the ‘outside the stump and chipped the ball back to the pitcher.
Kaitano continued his vigilance but he too fell before the end, leg ahead of Shakib Hasan after scoring seven of 102 balls, leaving Bangladesh needing seven wickets to secure the victory.