Tigers slightly ahead despite Mahmudullah madness | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 30, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:32 AM, October 30, 2016

Tigers slightly ahead despite Mahmudullah madness

The roller coaster second Test at Mirpur which is merely an extension of the Chittagong Test produced yet another breathtaking contest on the second day yesterday when fortunes fluctuated from one end to the other. At the end of three captivating sessions, which saw Bangladesh take a positive 128-run lead against England with seven second innings wickets still standing, the biggest talking point among the home fans understandably revolved around one shocker of a shot from Mahmudullah Riyad.

The right-hander, while on 47 and having already put on a valuable 86 runs with opener Imrul Kayes for the third wicket, attempted a wild sweep off what was the last ball of the day and was clean bowled, depriving Bangladesh of going into the third day on a strong footing.

It is true that the Tigers, on 152 for 3, will start the third day with a slight edge over England, and a lead close to 300 would definitely put them in pole position to win the game after that near miss in the fascinating Chittagong Test, which they lost by 22 runs. The good news is that Imrul, who reached his fifty with a confident reverse-sweep, was growing in confidence with an unbeaten 59.

But to achieve that goal the Tigers, who have so far shown that they have got the tail of a lizard, need to get their act together after that infamous first-innings collapse from 171-1 to 220 all out.

Apart from Mahmudullah's explosion of mind under fading light with the umpires insisting the players to bat for another 15 minutes till the bell ticks to five even after the completion of the mandatory 90 overs, plus those additional 30 minutes in the morning -- something like a rude reminder for the professionals from their employers -- the fascinating  second day will also be remembered for one hell of an achievement from 19-year-old off-spinner Mehedi Hasan.

Mehedi picked up his second five-for as England, resuming the day on 50-3, stared down the barrel before being revived by a resolute 99-run ninth-wicket stand between Adil Rashid (44) and Chris Woakes (46).

Mehedi, who has become only the second off-spinner to take five wickets in the first two Tests after West Indian Sonny Ramadhin, started the day from where he had left off on Friday by rattling the England top-order with two wickets in six-odd overs.

His partnership with left-arm spinner Taijul Islam was so devastating that at one stage it put England at 144-8 against Bangladesh's first-innings total of 220.

Mehedi made the first breakthrough of the morning by removing Moeen Ali (10) before Taijul struck the crucial blow by having all-rounder Ben Stokes sent back for a duck, thanks to a sharp catch at short leg by Mominul Haque.

Taijul also had the dangerous Joe Root trapped in front of the wicket for 56 with an intelligent arm ball. It opened up the prospect for Bangladesh to gain a considerable first-innings lead but those hopes were thudded by the frustrating ninth-wicket stand.

The left-right pair certainly played well under the glorious sunshine till tea and eventually gave England a crucial first innings lead of 24 runs.

But there was apparently not any extraordinary effort from Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim to break that partnership, which absorbed the spin attack first before revelling amidst conventional field placements.

With the partnership building, Mushfiqur, instead of trying to buy the wickets, played the game of patience and rotated his bowlers and waited for the opposition to err. Mushfiqur, who had a mixed day behind the stumps and dropped two sharp catches, even used his lone pacer Kamrul Islam Rabbi whose three uneventful overs cost 15 runs. He also used off-spinner Shuvagata Hom to no effect and tried the leg-spin of Sabbir Rahman.

However, Sabbir created an opportunity when he delivered a high full toss that Woakes, then on 38, pulled straight to Mehedi at short mid-wicket. But following a review the third umpire deemed it over waist height and the field umpire called it a no ball.

 

It was a cruel decision at a moment when Bangladesh desperately needed that breakthrough with England at 222-8. It was also cruel because had it been hit for a four nobody would have bothered to go for a review. Besides, it was perhaps a harsh call like the famous one from pacer Rubel Hossain against Rohit Sharma in the World Cup quarterfinal against India in 2015.

Despite that close call, Mushfiqur's wish was finally granted. He quickly used his bowlers for the new ball and the moment it was due after 80 overs, Mehedi and Taijul mopped England up quickly.

Woakes was brilliantly caught at leg slip by Shuvagata off Mehedi, who finished with fantastic figures of 28-2-82-6. Taijul had Steven Finn caught behind in the next over to finish with 25.3-3-65-3. Bangladesh's champion all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan bowled ten-odd overs in different spells, but the left-armer was not in his elements yesterday.

Tamim Iqbal, who hit an imperious century in the first innings, started Bangladesh's second innings in the same sublime fashion. With the left-hander smashing every loose ball to the boundary, Bangladesh wiped out England's 24-run first innings lead in just six overs. He raced on to 40 off just 47 balls with the help of seven cracking boundaries before being caught at leg-slip by England captain Alastair Cook off debutant left-arm spinner Zafar Ansari.

Tamim's dismissal led to the fall of Mominul Haque, who had hit a fine fifty in the first innings. He chased an outswinger from Stokes and was caught at slip for one, leaving Bangladesh at 66 for 2.

However, the home team played well after that until that brainfreeze from Mahmudullah, who had used the crease very well for his 57-ball 47 that contained five fours.

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