Bangladesh 128 runs ahead
Bangladesh ended 128 runs ahead of England at the end of a topsy-turvy day two at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur today.
After England recovered from a precarious 144 for 8 and took an unexpected 24-run lead in the first innings, Bangladesh's batters played the Test in limited overs fashion to tilt the game towards them, despite a brainfreeze from Mahmudullah Riyad on the last ball of the day, as they finished on 152 for 3 at stumps.
The star of the day was the young Mehedi Hasan Miraz, who scalped yet another six-wicket haul. The 19-year-old finished with figures of 6 for 82 and became only the second off-spinner in the history of Test cricket to take two five-wicket hauls in the first two Tests.
The second day of the second Test stayed true to the typical characteristics of the entire series so far. Neither team managed to hold on to the advantage for too long. It was a seesaw battle.
The day began 30 minutes early in order to recuperate for the lost overs on day one. At 50 for 3, England were in the hunt for partnerships. However, Bangladesh's spinners had other ideas in mind.
The ball was still new and both Mehedi and Taijul Islam managed to make it talk. In the 15th over, Mehedi removed the dangerous Moeen Ali by bowling him out. An over later, Taijul Islam got rid of England's tour hero, Ben Stokes by getting him caught at short leg. It was a good diving catch by Mominul Haque.
A partnership ensued between Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root and it helped England revive ever so slightly from 69 for 5. The duo put on 45 runs for the sixth wicket.
However, once Bairstow was trapped in front by Miraz, England crumbled once again. It was a poor shot from the wicketkeeper-batsman who went across and tried to flick one to the leg-side. The ball instead crashed onto his legs and he was deemed out LBW.
Soon after Zafar Ansari was caught at second slip by a diving Shuvagata Hom. Joe Root, who had fought his way to a fighting 56 departed next as a slider from Taijul Islam caught him at the back of the crease.
At 144 for 8, Bangladesh were hoping to get the lead for the first time in the series. All they needed to do was remove the tail.
However, Adil Rashid and Chris Woakes, both of who have first-class centuries, defied the hosts with a brilliant 99-run stand for the ninth wicket.
This was England's highest partnership in Asia. It was a stand that helped them not just come close to Bangladesh's first innings total of 220 but also move ahead of the hosts.
The ball was slightly old and the threatening turn that it had shown in the morning wasn't to be seen. Both Woakes and Rashid put their heads down and worked on navigating the singles. They rarely looked to hit the big shot.
Their concentration frustrated the opposing skipper, Mushfiqur Rahim. It also led to him taking a few odd decisions on the field.
For instance, he spread the field for the tailenders, making it easy for them to work their singles. There were moments in the game when Mushfiqur needed to employ more close in fielders, but the Bangladesh skipper seemed more content to block the run-flow and wait for the new ball.
By the time the new ball arrived England had already taken the lead and while Miraz took his fifth and sixth wickets with the shiny new cherry, both Rashid and Woakes knew that their scores of 44 and 46 had done the job for the visitors. They finished the first innings 24 runs ahead.
After the exchange, England wanted to continue the momentum and apply the pressure on the hosts. However, openers Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes came out with a target of attacking the England bowlers early on like in the first innings. They were successful too.
They wiped off the lead by the fifth over with a series of cover drives from Tamim Iqbal. Tamim, who had scored a century in the last innings, continued on his merry way and hit seven fours.
While the pitch was offering turn, the England spinners just couldn't get set and the aggressive hits from Tamim didn't help them too much either.
Eventually, the opening partnership was broken in the 13th over, when an anticlimactic defensive stroke from Tamim was caught by a close-in fielder. It was Ansari's first Test wicket.
Two balls later, England dismissed Mominul Haque, who as always, tried to fiddle with a delivery right outside the off stump. He got caught at slip for 1.
Bangladesh were looking in trouble at 66 for 2. However, a scintillating partnership between Imrul Kayes and Mahmudullah Riyad, both of who looked to attack the England bowlers early on, brought the hosts back into the game.
The duo put on 86 runs in 17.5 overs and batted Bangladesh out of trouble.
While Riyad scored a 57-ball 47, Imrul remained unbeaten on 59. Riyad hit five fours and Imrul hit eight.
The partnership, although game saving ended in the oddest of ways with Riyad, who probably was a bit nervous, tried to sweep Ansari on the last ball of the day. He eventually missed the delivery and got bowled.
Both the batsmen knew that they had to attack and score as many runs as possible with the ball still new. It was bound to get more difficult once the ball started reversing.
In the process, they posted plenty of runs and also kept their wickets intact.
The sweep shot was used well against the spinners, while the pacers were nudged for singles and doubles. It was a valiant partnership that defied the possibility of yet another collapse by the hosts.