Bangladesh fell into their own trap of undoing the opposition with spin as Afghanistan, playing just their third Test, moved into the driver’s seat on the second day of the one-off Test at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram yesterday.
It seemed that the visitors were ahead of the home side -- who are playing their 115th Test -- when it came to exploiting the pitch and conditions. With skipper Rashid Khan firing with both bat and ball, Afghanistan are set to take a big first-innings lead over the Tigers, who were still trailing by 148 runs with two wickets in hand at stumps and will resume the today on 194 for eight, with Mosaddek Hossain and Taijul Islam at the crease.
At 130 for seven, it seemed that The Tigers may even face the humiliation of following on before Mehedi Hasan Miraz and Mosaddek carried them past the mark of 142 and then Taijul joined the latter to construct a face-saving 48-run ninth-wicket stand.
Bangladesh’s batsmen never looked comfortable after coming in to bat just before the lunch break as the pitch seemed to transform from the one on which Afghanistan, riding on a maiden Test fifty from Rashid, scored 342. While his teammates maintained a disciplined line and length, it was Rashid who starred with the ball too, picking up four wickets to put his team in a commanding position.
However, Bangladesh did well at the start of the day picking up the last five Afghan wickets for just 71 runs after the visitors resumed on 271 for 5. Asghar Afghan, who resumed the day on 88, departed on 92 while Afsar Zazai also departed quickly for 41, adding just six runs to his overnight score.
Left-arm spinner Taijul Islam was the most successful bowler for the Tigers with four wickets while Shakib, who was wicketless on the first day, picked up two.
With four overs to go before lunch, Bangladesh started their dismal show with the bat by losing opener Shadman Islam in the very first over without troubling the scorers.
The left-hander edged a delivery moving away from his off stump, giving a wicket to the only specialist pacer in the game in Yamin Ahmadzai.
Yamin, along with off-spinner Mohammad Nabi, kept things tight as Liton Das -- who came in at number three -- and fellow strokemaker Soumya Sarkar, found it difficult to score runs. A measure of Afghanistan’s discipline was that Bangladesh’s first boundary – a six hit by Liton off chinaman bowler Zahir Khan – came in the 17th over.
But Soumya, pinned to his crease and playing across when he should have been playing forward and straight, was trapped in front by Nabi’s straighter delivery for 17 tortuous runs off 66 balls.
Liton, who had started to look comfortable, paid a heavy price for not taking time to adjust to Rashid’s faster pace when the he played a cross-batted shot against the leg-spinner and was bowled for 33.
Rashid delivered a hammer blow to the hosts just before the tea break when he removed Bangladesh’s two most experienced batsmen -- skipper Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim -- in the same over.
Shakib was trapped leg-before for 11 off a brilliant Rashid delivery and lost a review in the process. Mushfiqur, however, was a touch unlucky as he was given out for a duck after playing a back foot defence straight down only to see the ball bounce off his toes and go into short leg’s hands, with the TV umpire adjudging that the ball had not hit the ground.
After tea, Rashid dismissed the other experienced batsman in Mahmudullah Riyad with a ball that kept low and burst through the gaping gap between bat and pad to hit timber.
Mominul Haque, Bangladesh’s Test specialist, was the only home batsman who looked in control even with the procession of batsmen coming and going at the other end. The left-hander, having come in at number four, started to accelerate with a couple of boundaries and also reached his fifty, but got carried away and paid the price for playing an extravagant shot to be caught at mid on trying to hit Nabi over the top on after top-scoring with 52 off 71 balls.
Leg-spinner Qais Ahmed then got his maiden Test wicket by removing Mehedi as Bangladesh were on the verge of being bundled out below 150 before Mosaddek and Taijul came together.
Mosaddek was not out on 44 off 74 balls and Taijul was unbeaten on 14 off 55 deliveries.