Tamim, Imrul flay Zimbabwe

Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes reunited to put an epic double century partnership, leading Bangladesh to a commendable 303-2 on the opening day of the third Test in Chittagong on Wednesday. The pair, easily the best ever to open the innings for Bangladesh, took control of the game from the word go to flay Zimbabwean bowlers, showing no sign of nervousness. They were both rewarded with individual centuries and a record 224-run partnership for their courageous batting that gave Bangladesh a shot in the arm in their pursuit of a 3-0 sweep. Tamim slammed 109 off 171 balls and Imrul added a valiant 130 off 257 balls in his comeback innings as Bangladesh left Zimbabwe exhausted at the end of opening day’s play. This was best ever start for Bangladesh in a Test match as Tamim and Imrul surpassed their own record of 185 against England at Lords’ in 2010. They have now featured in three of the five century partnerships Bangladesh have in the first wicket.

Zimbabwe knew it was not going to be their day ever since Mushfiqur Rahim successfully called the coin to ask them to bowl on a flattish wicket of the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium. Tamim and Imrul left them waiting until the third session to get their first breakthrough, which came at a time when it looked the openers can bat out all the five days if they wished. Tamim made the mistake miscuing a pull shot off part-timer Sikandar Raza and Hamilton Masakadza jumped to his left at mid-off to grab the catch, giving their debilitated attack some relief. Tamim left for exactly the same score that he got in the second Test at Khulna. But the two innings came in contrasting manner to show the two sides to Tamim’s batting.

While in Khulna Tamim laboured for every run he scored and took 312 balls to reach his century, setting up a new record for the slowest century for Bangladesh, he was a different batsman in his home ground. The same cover drive, straight drive, cut and pulls that typified Tamim as a batsman returned to full flow and century also came at an usual pace of 150 balls. They all indicated that Tamim was now a relieved man after years of waiting for a big innings. In Khulna he scored his first century in four years and now he got another one in two weeks time, that drew him level with former captain Mohammad Ashraful at a maximum of six Test centuries for Bangladesh. It was no less a fairytale story for Imrul, who scored a century in his last Test at this ground against Sri Lanka in February, but lost out his place after a poor series in West Indies. He returned to the team only after Shamsur Rahman failed in the first two Tests. And Imrul grabbed his chance to begin with a boundary off the first ball he faced and finished with 12 fours and two sixes in his second Test century. The only blemish in his innings was a chance at 19 when he was dropped by Brian Chari at deep midwicket off Natsai M’shangwe. Masakadza, one of the very few shinning lights for Zimbabwe in the series, had to take the ball in his hand to remove Imrul, who flashed a catch to substitute fielder Vusimuzi Sibanda at gully. There was, however, no serious respite for Zimbabwe as Mominul Haque continued the onslaught to stay unbeaten on 46 at stumps alongside Mahmudullah, five not out.