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Das fires career-best 95 to drive Bangladesh comeback in Zimbabwe

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Harare (AFP)

Liton Das struck a Test career-best 95 on Wednesday to play a pivotal role in Bangladesh reaching 294-8 by the close of play after the first day of a one-off Test against Zimbabwe.

With the Asian Tigers struggling at 132-6, Das and Mahmudullah Riyad came together and put on 138 runs for the seventh wicket behind closed doors at Harare Sports Club.

Das bettered by one run his previous best of 94 in a 2018 draw with Sri Lanka before being caught by Victor Nyauchi off the bowling of Donald Tiripano.

“We have some highly skilled players in this team (and) Liton is one of those guys,” said recently appointed Bangladesh batting coach Ashwell Prince from South Africa.

“We have had some conversations during the week. He shared that sometimes he gives his wicket away in the 30s and 40s, due to lack of concentration.

“I told him, if he can bat for more than three hours, forgetting about the score which is on 30 or 40, he would be close to a hundred.

“We were all quite disappointed for him that he did not get the hundred. I think this is a good learning (experience) for him.”

Das was poised for his first Test century as he faced the first ball of the 79th over, but the 27-year-old right-hand batsman pulled a shot straight to fine leg where Nyauchi took a sharp catch.

On a day when no Bangladeshi managed to claim a six, Das struck 13 fours off 147 balls during a 200-minute stand at the crease.

– Haque stabilised innings –

Recalled Mahmudullah was unbeaten at the close on 54 — the third highest contribution after Das and captain Mominul Haque, whose 70 stabilised an innings that began disastrously.

Top-order pair Saif Hassan (0) and Najmul Hossein Shanto (2) were back in the change room with just eight runs on the scoreboard as Blessing Muzarabani struck twice.

When hesitant opener Shadman Islam was sent packing for 23, rattled Bangladesh were 68-3 and in dire need of a saviour.

Enter Mominul, a skipper in desperate need of a Test victory having achieved the feat just once in eight previous attempts as the helm.

He matched Das by hitting 13 fours and put on 70 off 92 balls in 157 minutes before being caught in the 36th over as debutant Dion Myers grabbed a cut shot at gully off the bowling of Nyauchi.

Mahmudullah, whose last Test appearance was in February 2020 against Pakistan, notched five fours in a half century patiently constructed off 141 balls.

Muzarabani was the most successful Zimbabwe bowler, taking three wickets at the cost of 48 runs in 16 overs, which included three maidens.

Tiripano and Nyauchi took two wickets each and Richard Ngarava one for the hosts, who fielded without captain Sean Williams after he came into contact with several people who tested positive for Covid-19.

The Test is the first part of an all-format visit by Bangladesh to fellow cricket minnows Zimbabwe with three one-day internationals and three Twenty20 internationals to come this month.

Bangladesh hosted Zimbabwe last year and completed a six-match clean sweep, winning a Test, three one-day and two Twenty20 internationals.


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