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Bangladesh on top after Rahim's record-filled marathon

Day 2 of the second Test between Bangladesh and Zimbabwe was mainly about Mushfiqur Rahim’s (219*) heroics. The wicketkeeper-batsman wore down Zimbabwe’s bowlers with a marathon vigil, where he faced 421 balls and batted for more than nine hours to take Bangladesh to a commanding position at close of play. After the hosts declared their innings at 522 for 7, Zimbabwe finished with 25 for 1 at stumps.

Doggedness and self belief – the words that aptly describe Rahim’s patient innings. The wicketkeeper-batsman belongs to old school, ready to bide his time and wait for the loose balls. His approach towards batting can be capsulised by the point that he dealt only in singles to score the five runs that he needed to reach the coveted 200-run landmark after the Tea break.

It was an innings where he had to paddle through numerous difficult phases, especially when the excellent Kyle Jarvis was bowling. However, he showcased the resolve to navigate through such spells and cracked his second double ton. At the start of the day, too, Rahim, alongside Mahmudullah, had to tackle the early threat posed by Jarvis and Tendai Chatara.

The duo bowled with a sense of purpose to extract life out of a surface that was offering some variable bounce. Chatara even found the edge of Rahim’s bat, but for Regis Chakabva, the ‘keeper, to put down the chance. In fact, the ball seemed to be flying towards Hamilton Masakadza standing at first slip, but Chakabva dived across instinctively only to shell the chance. To make matters worse for the visiting side, Chatara was stretched off the field due to a grade two quad muscle strain. Subsequently, he was ruled of the rest of the Test.

As Mahmudullah and Rahim walked back to the pavilion at the lunch break, Zimbabwe needed a spark of inspiration from somewhere. On resumption, it was Jarvis, who briefly provided that spark by removing both Mahmudullah and Ariful Hoque, to pick up a five-wicket haul. The Zimbabwe pacer consistently hit the seam, bowled with impressive control and moved it off the pitch to trouble the home side’s batsmen.

Unfortunately for Zimbabwe, that spark was short-lived. Rahim, who reached his 150 with a thick outside edge, continued to collect useful runs. Mehidy Hasan (68*), the promising all rounder, joined in the act as the duo ensured that Zimbabwe wouldn’t take another wicket in the first innings. Mehidy was initially more aggressive of the two before Rahim took a toll off Sikandar Raza’s bowling with a four and six.

The wicketkeeper-batsman soon reached his double century in the final session with a quick single off Raza. Rahim, who played the longest innings by a Bangladesh cricketer in Tests, broke the record of Shakib Al Hasan (217) for the highest individual score for Bangladesh in the longest format and also became the only wicketkeeper to score two double hundreds in Tests. Mahmudullah, the captain, then decided to declare the innings.

When Bangladesh came out to bowl, the home side lost a couple of reviews. Masakadza was also dropped off the bowling of Test debutant Khaled Ahmed in the slip cordon. However, at the fag end of the day, Taijul Islam sent Masakadza back to the pavilion as Bangladesh continued to dominate the proceedings.

The track is offering some variable bounce and Bangladesh would be confident of slicing through Zimbabwe’s batting order on Day 3.

Brief scores: Bangladesh 522/7 decl. (Mushfiqur Rahim 219* Mominul Haque 161; Kyle Jarvis 5-71) lead Zimbabwe 25/1 (Taijul Islam 1-5) by 497 runs.

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