x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Brendan Taylor delighted by Zimbabwe's strong return to Test cricket

The captain, however, aims to build on the hosts' score of 264 for two on the first day of the one-off Test ¿ their first in six years ¿ against Zimbabwe in Harare.

Zimbabwe marked their return from a six-year exile by scoring an impressive 264 for two against Bangladesh on the first day of a one-off Test at the Harare Sports Club on Thursday.

All four of Zimbabwe's top batsmen made runs, with Hamilton Masakadza finishing the day unbeaten on 88 with seven fours and a six as he closes in on a second Test century. Masakadza made his first century 10 years ago on his debut at the age of 17, scoring 119 against the West Indies on the same ground.

Brendan Taylor, the new captain, was also undefeated on Thursday, having made a steady 40 off 108 balls. Tinotenda Mawoyo, the debutant opener, made 43 while Vusi Sibanda smashed 78, with seven fours and one six, as the two put on 102 for the first wicket.

"I cannot compliment our guys enough," Taylor said. "The way the openers stuck it out and the platform of Hamilton and myself in the final session was perfect - you cannot ask more than that. Tomorrow we must stay focused."

After losing the toss, and being put into bat on a greenish wicket by Shakib Al Hassan, the Bangladesh captain, Zimbabwe constructed a foundation for what could be a winning score. Despite the return of Test cricket, the match attracted fewer than 1,000 people.

But the performance of Zimbabwe had Haroon Lorgat, the International Cricket Council chief executive, feeling optimistic over the team's future in the five-day game.

"Much has been done to improve cricket in Zimbabwe, especially in the past two years," Lorgat said. "It has been fantastic to see some experienced and talented individuals becoming deeply involved, including former players such as Heath Streak, Grant Flower and Alistair Campbell."