Associated Press

Chittagong, January 6:

Captain Habibul Bashar missed a century but led a rejuvenated top-order on Thursday to put Bangladesh in a strong position on the first day of the first cricket Test against Zimbabwe.

At stumps, Bangladesh was 280 for the loss of four wickets with Rajin Saleh unbeaten at 60, and Aftab Ahmed batting on six. Saleh’s knock included seven boundaries and one six.

Bashar fell on 94 — six runs short of his fourth century — in the 87th over to rookie fast bowler Christopher Mpofu. He was caught behind after edging an outswinger, giving Mpofu his first Test wicket. His 127-ball knock included 14 boundaries.

Bashar’s 119-run fourth wicket partnership with Saleh was the highest of the innings after a record 91-run opening stand. Bangladesh added 127 runs in the third session losing only the wicket of Bashar. Three other wickets fell in the second session.

Fast bowler Mluleki Nkala claimed Mohammad Ashraful for 19 with the last ball before tea as Bangladesh stuttered to 153 for three after making a steady start.

Ashraful was Nkala’s (2-14) second victim. He earlier dismissed opener Nafis Iqbal (56) just after the batsman hammered his second Test 50. Iqbal smashed an Elton Chigumbura delivery off the back-foot to cover for four to reach the half century.

In the 37th over, Chigumbura removed Javed Omar (33) — caught by wicketkeeper captain Tatenda Taibu — after the batsman attempted to play a short length delivery.

Iqbal departed soon after, caught superbly at short leg by Vusimuzi Sibanda off Mluleki Nkala as Bangladesh lost its two openers for just two runs in three overs. The opening stand of 91 runs was a record for Bangladesh in Test matches. The previous best partnership was 73 runs in which Omar featured with Al Shahriar.

The early inroads justified captain Bashar’s decision to bat first after winning the toss.