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Zimbabwe take control

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The Zimbabwe cricket team performed beyond expectations with an impressive display on the first day of their lone Castle Lager Test match against Bangladesh at Harare Sports Club yesterday.

Zimbabwe hardly looked like a team playing their first Test match in six years as they finished day one in commanding position on 264 for two after 90 overs.

Hamilton Masakadza was closing in on his second Test century as he was still unbeaten on 88 runs from 203 deliveries, while skipper Brendan Taylor was not out on 40 off 108 balls.

Masakadza cracked seven boundaries and a six as the two combined for a crucial unbeaten third wicket partnership stand of 102 runs, which ensured Zimbabwe made use of the solid foundation laid by openers Tino Mawoyo and Vusi Sibanda who had earlier posted on identical opening stand.

The Bangladesh seamers found it hard to make inroads with Rubel Hossain the only bowler to pose a threat after taking the only wickets to fall on the day.

Hossain was the pick of the bowlers with two wickets for 59 runs in 18 overs while other bowlers struggled to make any breakthrough with spinners Abur Razzak and Shakib Al Hasan hardly troubling the batsman.

Taylor said he was satisfied with how his charges had handled themselves after being sent in to bat and said a total of 400 or more would be satisfactory.

Earlier Bangladesh had won the toss and sent in Zimbabwe to bat hoping to utilise the extra bounce and movement which was expected in the early overs. The move backfired as the wicket offered little assistance to the bowlers.

Debutant opener Mawoyo (43) and Sibanda (78) successfully saw off the ball helping the hosts to a solid start with an opening partnership stand of 102 runs in 30.

Mawoyo finally perished for 43 in the penultimate over before lunch while attempting to cut seamer Rubel Hossain, presenting a low catch to Mahmudullah at point.

Sibanda had earlier been dropped at 60 by Imrul Kayes at second slip off Rubel Hossain, but after lunch went on to post a career best 78 off 154 balls in only his fourth Test match.

The MidWest Rhinos skipper shared a second wicket partnership of 62 with Masakadza in an innings that included seven fours and a six.

He, however, fell to the same bowler in the 49th over after being caught behind by wicketkeeper Mashfiqur Rahim while attempting to cut a delivery from seamer Robiul Islam to leave Zimbabwe at 162 for two.

However, Masakadza showed a lot of maturity after coming in at the crucial number three position, with an aggressive approach early on before stabilising later on to ensure Zimbabwe took advantage of the promising start.

Taylor was composed from the onset and did not panic despite getting off to a slow start.

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