Ban vs Zim: Bangladesh amassed 303/2 on Day 1 at stumps
Chittagong, Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes scored centuries in a record opening stand and led Bangladesh to a commanding 303-2 against Zimbabwe on the first day of the third cricket test on Wednesday.
Kayes struck a career-best 130 while Iqbal made 109. Their stand of 224 surpassed Bangladesh's previous best opening of 185 against England at Lord's in 2010, which was also held by Iqbal and Kayes.
It was the first time Bangladesh openers have made centuries in the same test.
At stumps, Mominul Haque was unbeaten on 46, and Mahmudullah on 5.
On the unforgiving Chittagong pitch, Zimbabwe went wicketless in the first two sessions before part-time bowlers helped them claim wickets in the last session. Medium-pacers Hamilton Masakadza, 1-3, and Sikandar Raza, 1-74, took them.
The 224-run opening partnership was only the fourth 200-plus partnership for any wicket by Bangladesh in test cricket.
Iqbal, who hit the slowest ever century for Bangladesh in the last test, this time needed just 150 balls to reach triple figures. His sixth test century equaled Mohammad Ashraful's national record.
He plundered 14 boundaries and a six before raising his century by clipping fast bowler Shingi Masakadza toward square leg for a single.
He was the first to go to give Zimbabwe some relief, miscuing a shot off Raza. Hamilton Masakadza flung to his left at long-on to hold a brilliant catch.
It was the second time that Iqbal has posted back-to-back test centuries, following successive hundreds against England in 2010 at Lord's and Old Trafford.
It was also Iqbal's first international century at his Chittagong home ground.
"I have come close a few times in ODIs and tests," he said. "To be able to do it finally, is a great feeling. If I get another chance, I will definitely try to score another century.
"I celebrated more because it was my home ground. I don't think they (relatives) came to the ground, but I am sure they prayed for me."
Iqbal surprised many when he curbed his natural flamboyance in the Khulna test last week to hit a grinding century.
"Khulna was a lot of hard work," he said. "The wicket looked flat there but it wasn't easy to bat. Both are different. I got a lot more boundaries here. I never thought I would score only 75 runs batting the entire day in Khulna. I should have made at least a hundred. It was a very tough innings, but both are special to me."
Unlike Iqbal, Kayes' innings was not chanceless. He was dropped on 15, 41 and 98 on the way to his second test century in his 19th test.
Kayes hit nine boundaries and cleared the rope twice en route to his century off 191 balls. He was compact after reaching his century and played some gorgeous shots around the wicket, until Hamilton Masakadza dismissed him. Overall, he clobbered a dozen boundaries and two sixes.
In a career spanning six years, Kayes seems to have cemented his place for the first time. Both of Kayes' centuries have come this year, the first against Sri Lanka in February at the same venue.
"But still I am worried to make my place permanent," Kayes said. "There is lot of competition, and I know I have to keep up the good work. Chittagong is always a lucky ground for me. All of my centuries came at this place."
Zimbabwe did not create any chances to take wickets afterwards, and Bangladesh, chasing a 3-0 series sweep, cruised onward towards a big total.
"The first hour on the second day will be crucial to determine the course of the match," Iqbal said. "It's a placid deck and making runs are tougher here. We want to bat till tea, and then decide the next course of action. Hopefully the spinners will get assistance from day three. If so, it will be great for us."