Brendan Taylor and Peter Moor dished out an inspiring fightback, which should motivate Zimbabwe……

“It’s not over. It’s certainly not. But it’s going to be a monumental challenge for us to even draw this game. We’ve batted 105 overs. If we bat four sessions, that’s 120 overs on day five. Realistically, it will be a miracle for us to draw this game, but we have to have the belief that we have the batters and mental strength to do that”

Brendan Taylor

Neither Zimbabwe have a Sir Vivian Richards nor a Gordon Greenidge in their batting line-up, who would go out there to challenge the humungous score of Bangladesh in the first innings by smashing daddy hundreds. But one thing for sure,  this Zimbabwe team is blessed with some fighting characters, who just don’t bog down under pressure. The boys know their limitations and don’t try to do anything beyond that, but unleash their tenacity, whenever it is required. It was evident in Sylhet and once again, it earned the accolades at Mirpur.

The ball was still hard and new. Mahmudullah wanted to exploit the early morning moisture and engaged Mustafizur Rahman and Khaled Ahmed from both ends. Khaled was aggressive and banged the ball shorter to hit Chari’s helmet for the second time, while Fizz bowled on top of off and moved the cherry away from the batters  – more on a good length and tad fuller at times, which squared the batters. The first one hour was testing, but no wickets fell.

In Test matches, leaving the ball bears a lot of weight and for the Test teams who lack the world’s best batsmen in their batting line-up, it becomes more important for them, especially when they are batting in reply to opposition’s 500-plus score.  Zimbabwe’s Brian Chari and nightwatchman, Donald Tiripano were not feeling comfortable against Kahled and Fizz in the morning session, what they did was, leaving the ball as much as possible – occupying the crease was the order of the day and it was their way of displaying their fighting nature.

It took Bangladesh 50 minutes to force a breakthrough. Who else but Taijul Islam dismissed Tiripano and it brought Brendan Taylor at the crease.

The scoring rate increased.

Chari decided to attack and smashed two sixes off Taijul and Khaled, while the boundaries started to flow simultaneously, but it did not bring anything good for Zimbabwe, who were needed to exhibit resolve rather than an aggressive intent. 96 for 2 became 131 for 5 in the twinkle of an eye and it was up to Brendan Taylor display his composure like Mushfiqur Rahim exhibited on Day 1.

Peter Moor, whose patience bore fruit in Sylhet accompanied Taylor at the other end, but this time around, he was the man to feed the composure of his partner.

Also read: Sean Williams and Peter Moor show Zimbabwe the template for tackling spin in Bangladesh

Taylor held one end firm. The highlight of his innings was the way he read the flight of Taijul and Mehidy Hasan Miraz. His sweep shot against a well-floated Mehidy delivery in the 40th over of the day indicated about the control over his shot. The ball raced towards the square-leg boundary for four. Taijul tried his sliders to unsettle Taylor, but his ability to read the ball from the bowler’s hand earlier than his other teammates, allowed him to go behind the line and block them firmly. His small strides against Taijul was another important thing, which made it easier to leak runs – some of them were dispatched for boundaries.

He switched to a strike-rotation mode, when five wickets fell. He kept it simple – use your feet well enough and get behind the line as much as possible – the runs will come.

Brendan Taylor in action against Bangladesh, Second Test, Mirpur, 2018. Image Courtesy: ESPNcricinfo
Brendan Taylor in action against Bangladesh, Second Test, Mirpur, 2018. Image Courtesy: ESPNcricinfo

The runs came and the partnership with Moor frustrated Bangladesh and at one point it seemed, Zimbabwe might end the day without losing further wickets. Moor trusted his defence a lot and targeted to blunt the attack by dealing with boundaries, which came at regular intervals. He waited for the loose-balls and whenever he got those, they either sailed over the infield or pierced the gaps with an absolute surgical precision.

It was all about complimenting each other. If Moor fed on Taylor’s composure, then Taylor utilized Moor’s fluency, as it forced Mahmudullah to set a defensive field, which made strike-rotation easier for Taylor.

A stand of 139 runs was scripted where Moor contributed 83 runs facing 114 balls and Taylor 55 runs facing 104 balls. Of course, they were aided by some sloppy fielding, but that can’t undermine their gallant effort.

Taylor carried on after Moor’s departure, but in a crucial passage of play, Taylor lost his cool and attempted a slog sweep, which was caught in the outfield in an astonishing fashion by Taijul. A defiant knock could not be an epic one at the end of Day 3.

But nevertheless, Moor and, especially, Taylor have given Zimbabwe the slightest of hope of survival in this Test, in which, Bangladesh are all set to win. Their effort should inspire Zimbabwe. They lasted 105 overs in the first innings and a bit more resolve can be beneficial for them. It is an extremely tough task, but Taylor and Moor’s efforts should motivate others.

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