Skipper Mahmudullah and spinners put Bangladesh in sight of a series leveling win over Zimbabwe in the second Test in Dhaka with only eight wickets needed by the home side on the final day on Thursday.
Mahmudullah struck an unbeaten 101 off 122 balls while debutant Mohammad Mithun scored 67 off 110 balls on the fourth day, helping Bangladesh declare their second innings at 224-6 to give Zimbabwe a monumental target of 443 runs.
The hosts began their victory push by reducing Zimbabwe to 76-2 before bad light forced an early stumps on the fourth day, which left the visitors still requiring 367 runs on the final day to win the contest or a full day to survive for a draw.
Off-spinner Mehedi Hasan compensated an early drop of Hamilton Masakadza on five off debutant pacer Khaled Ahmed by dismissing the Zimbabwean skipper for 25 to break a potentially dangerous 68-run opening stand.
Mehedi, who also dropped Brian Chari on naught at slip, had his spin partner Taijul Islam to thank after the latter trapped the opener in front for 43 soon to finish the day on a high note.
Brendon Taylor and Sean Williams remained at the crease on four and two respectively, facing an uphill task to win the game or secure a draw, which would give them their first series win after a gap of seven years.
Mahmudullah earlier took Bangladesh to a strong position by notching up a brilliant hundred – his second in career and first on home soil.
When Mahmudullah drove leg-spinner Brendon Mavuta to cover for two runs it ended his eight-year wait for a three-figure innings in Tests since he hit 115 against New Zealand at Hamilton in 2010.
Mahmudullah and Mithun shared 118-run for the fifth wicket to rescue Bangladesh from a precarious situation after the hosts found themselves at 25-4 having opted not to enforce follow-on, despite a 218-run first innings lead.
Mithun made amends for his first innings duck on debut Test and played a crucial role by scoring his maiden Test fifty.
Bangladesh lost Mithun and Ariful Haque (five) in quick succession but a 73-run seventh wicket stand between Mahmdudllah and Mehedi (27 not out) ensured Bangladesh did not lose their grip on the match.
Bangladesh need a win in this Test to square the series after going down by 151 runs in the opening Test in Sylhet.
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