Aus dominate Tigers
A defensive approach led to dipping body language for Bangladesh as the home side seemed to be waiting for something to happen with the pitch while the game slipped away.
Some missed chances also surrendered the momentum to the visitors as Australia dominated the second day of the second Test at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong yesterday. They ended the day on 225 for two, trailing Bangladesh's first innings total of 305 by just 80 runs.
David Warner capitalised on being reprieved twice and displayed the patience and skill that the Bangladesh batsmen lacked. The left-handed opener was inching towards his 20th Test hundred and second of the series. He will resume the third day on 88 off 170 balls and 266 minutes at the crease, during which he hit just four boundaries. Peter Handscomb was also unbeaten on a solid 69 from 113 balls with five fours, registering his fourth fifty as he added 127 runs for the third wicket with Warner to conclude a commanding day at the office.
Warner was dropped off a sharp chance by Mominul Haque at short leg off Taijul Islam when on 52, before skipper Mushfiqur Rahim missed a stumping chance off Mehedi Hasan Miraz when the 30-year-old, on 73, came down the track and was beaten by the turn, only for the ball to stay low and hit Mushfiqur's pads as he was unable to bend down in time.
But apart from these two chances the Australia batsmen were flawless throughout their stay at the crease while the Bangladesh bowlers tended to bowl more on the leg side to exploit the rough from the Ispahani End but were unable to create any headway.
However, Bangladesh did get a thumping start when Mushfiqur dived full length to his right to catch a thin nick off opener Matt Renshaw's swish to a Mustafizur Rahman delivery that was going down leg in the second over of the innings. It was the first and only wicket taken by a Bangladeshi fast bowler in the series so far.
But after the arrival of Aussie skipper Steven Smith the Bangladesh bowlers seemed to lose the momentum and bowled either side of the wicket with a defensive field setting that helped the pair get off to comfortable starts and reach a position from where they could dominate the afternoon session.
The captain and the vice-captain batted solidly and gave no chance to the home side while adding 93 runs for the second wicket, with Smith reaching his 21st Test fifty.
With 20 minutes left for tea, Mushfiqur brought Taijul Islam into the attack and off the first ball Smith, batting on 58 off 93 balls with eight fours, left a huge gap between bat and pad for a gem of a delivery from the left-arm spinner to sneak through. The Aussie skipper expected turn but the ball held its line.
The visitors were 98 for two and when the Bangladesh bowlers needed to step up the aggression the defensive attitude continued as they looked to contain runs by keeping fielders on the boundary, making it easy for Handscomb to settle down quickly.
Earlier, Australia managed to knock off the remaining four Bangladesh wickets in the first 23.2 overs of the morning session with off-spinner Nathan Lyon taking two more wickets and ending up with an innings haul of seven for 94. Bangladesh managed to add another 52 runs from their overnight score of 253. Lyon drew first blood as he got the much-awaited turn from the pitch with a loopy delivery which took the inside edge of the bat and went on to the stumps of Mushfiqur, who had added just six to his overnight score of 62.
Nasir Hossain, the other overnight batsman, looked composed after resuming on 19 and continued in the same manner till he became the second victim of Ashton Agar, edging to the keeper for 45 crucial runs as the home side were reduced to 293 for eight.
Nasir was dismissed for the third consecutive time by Agar and it was similar to his dismissal in the second innings of the first Test when he edged to the wicketkeeper trying to cut a ball close to the body.
Mehedi Hasan Miraz was run out after he hesitated for a second run to leave the Tigers nine down and four short of 300 in the very next over. Taijul Islam then carried the score to 305 before becoming Lyon's seventh victim. It was the off spinner's third seven-wicket haul in six years in Test cricket.
Australia are in a strong position to deny Bangladesh their fourth ever Test series victory in 17 years since getting into the Test arena. The home side, meanwhile, need to stop expecting the pitch to help them and manufacture something extraordinary to make a match of it over the next three days.