Zunaed, Mushfiq sparkle
Mushfiqur Rahim capped off a tense day with two dramatic sixes off speedster Dale Steyn as Bangladesh went off with heads slightly held high on the first day of the second and final Test against South Africa at the SuperSport Park in Centurion yesterday.
The diminutive right-hander's superb half-century took Bangladesh to 250 runs from 76.2 overs in their first innings and after Mashrafe Bin Mortaza took the wicket of Neil McKenzie, the pendulum was on the Tigers' corner as the hosts were 20 for one at stumps. Rokibul Hasan took a juggling catch at backward point to remove the opener. Smith and Hashim Amla were unbeaten on 15 and 5 respectively.
But Rahim's 65 off 86 balls frustrated the hosts, who reduced Bangladesh to 194 for nine, with a 56-run stand with number 11 Mahbubul Alam, who just contributed one run but survived nearly an hour.
Rahim batted beautifully, having struck nine boundaries, and took a particular liking to the blinding pace of Steyn. Rahim took 36 runs from 24 deliveries faced from the fiery paceman as Graeme Smith was forced to take the bowler off. Bangladesh's tormentor had humbling figures of 80 for one from 17 overs, easily the day's most expensive bowler.
New boy Monde Zondeki removed Rahim in the end after AB de Villiers took a good catch at square leg.
Earlier, a good start remained a far cry for the Tigers but Zunaed Siddiqui slammed his third half-century. The Rajshahi left-hander had a terrific performance against the fast bowlers during the first Test at Bloemfontein but came back with confidence to salvage some pride for his side on the first day. The tall left-hander was on 66, his second fifty against the Proteas after 74 earlier this year in Dhaka, and wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim accompanied him on nought before the break.
Bangladesh wished for an impressive opening stand to survive against the fiery South African pace attack as they had no answer in the first Test to suffer an innings and 129-run defeat.
Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes however looked well against the new ball bowlers Dale Steyn and Makhaya Ntini after Mohammad Ashraful decided to bat first against the South African all-seam attack in a pitch, which is being considered a rather quicker surface in the country.
Many raised eyebrows with the bold decision but the match was nicely placed in favour of the visitors for at least an hour-and-a-half despite the fact that the home side picked up all the pacers to exploit the seaming conditions at Centurion.
The way the opening pair progressed it seemed that they were going to break the previous best of a 52-run opening stand between Hannan Sarker and Al-Shahriar but Ntini gave the first breakthrough by removing Kayes to put an end to the 25-run stand. The wicket also opened the gate not for deadly Steyn but this time for tall Morne Morkel, who grabbed four wickets to cause damage.
Left-hander Kayes got an outside edge to reach the safe hands off Graeme Smith at slip.
Zunaed, who had been struggling for long, joined Tamim to repair the damage and added 29 runs before the former got the fine little snick through to wicketkeeper Mark Boucher to become the first victim of lanky Morkel.
Tamim scored 31 off 67 balls with the help of five fours.
Bangladesh innings however lost the way as captain Ashraful continued his poor showing in the series as the tourists went for lunch with 64 for three on the scoreboard. The Tigers skipper survived only nine balls for one run before offering a return catch to Morkel.
After the break Ntini produced his typical angular delivery to get the scalp of Mehrab Hossain as the left-hander, who made an unbeaten 43 in the second innings of the first Test, edged it straight to Jacques Kallis at second slip.
Debutant Rokibul Hasan contributed the highest 51-run partnership with Zunaed before Morkel's short delivery kissed his bat to reach the safe hands of Boucher. Rokibul made 15 runs.
Bangladesh might have finished the session with little bit of solace if Shakib Al Hasan didn't show too much aggressiveness as the left-hander went for a cover drive against Morkel only to drag the ball on to his stumps.
Shakib made a quickfire 27-ball 30 that featured six boundaries.