Pakistan cruising in Chattogram
Pakistan put on a second consecutive unbeaten hundred-run opening stand yesterday to guide themselves towards victory, needing only 93 more runs with all wickets in hand on the final day of their first Test against Bangladesh at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram today.
In chase of a modest 202-run target, Pakistan openers Abid Ali and Abdullah Shafique struck unbeaten fifties to help the visitors put 109 for no loss on the board before stumps yesterday.
The century stand also means that Pakistan openers have put on a hundred-run stand in both innings of a Test match only for the second time, with their first being back in 2003 against South Africa.
Although the fate of a cricket match, especially in Tests, can be turned around with a brilliant performance at any moment of the match, it seems highly unlikely that Bangladesh would pull a rabbit out of the hat especially with Abid and Shafique well set at the crease, scoring unbeaten 56 and 53, respectively.
Left-arm spinner Taijul Islam, who bowled 16 overs yesterday, was the only Bangladeshi bowler who was able to put the Pakistani batters in a bit of trouble, beating outside edges and producing a few close LBW calls.
Before Pakistan set themselves on a winning course, an early wicket and a concussion had put the Tigers on the backfoot.
Resuming the day on 39 for four and with an 83-run lead, Bangladesh got off to a positive start when overnight batsman Mushfiqur Rahim (16 off 33) smashed pacer Hasan Ali for a boundary in the day's very first delivery.
However, Hasan had his revenge just a ball later as Mushfiqur shouldered arms to a delivery that nipped back in sharply to knock off the right-hander's off-stump.
The other overnight batter Yasir Ali, who made his debut in this Test after being in the national set-up for 955 days, was looking fluent with his strokes all around the ground before the right-hander was hit on the helmet off a Shaheen Shah Afridi bouncer just an hour into the first session.
Yasir batted on for an over after the blow but had to eventually retire hurt after a 72-ball 36. And as per rules of the concussion substitute, Yasir was later replaced by Nurul Hasan Sohan, who departed playing a rash shot after scoring only 15 runs.
Liton Das (59 off 89) followed up his first innings ton with a fifty before being trapped in front by Afridi, who ended with his fourth Test fifer, returning figures of five for 32 in 15 overs.