Sports, Cricket

Tigers on top after Pakistan’s early success

Published : 26 Nov 2021 08:29 PM

On a day in Chattogram that began with an earthquake and then had smoke from a nearby fire billowing above the stadium, Pakistan blazed through the Bangladesh top order to get the early advantage in the contest. Once Bangladesh found the ground beneath their feet, though, there were no aftershocks. Pakistan’s early morning menace melted away in the watery winter sunshine of the afternoon, and from four down for 49, Mushfiqur Rahim and Liton Das put on an unbroken 204-run partnership to wrest back control on the first day, the home side sitting pretty at stumps at 250 for 4. It's just the second time Bangladesh have ever put on a partnership of 200-plus in Test matches against Pakistan.

Liton’s maiden Test century decorated the day for Bangladesh, a fighting knock from a man who has been knocked down a fair bit of late. 

Dropped from the T20 side after Bangladesh’s torrid World Cup campaign, Liton got a vote of confidence from captain Mominul Haque, who said Liton was strong enough to recover mentally.

Coming in to bat with the top and upper-middle order decimated, Liton fought off the new ball, the spinners, a niggle as he approached his hundred, and, under the fading light, a few overs with the second ball, coming out of all of that unscathed to guarantee he would be out there on the second morning to take on Pakistan's bowlers once more.

His partner, Mushfiqur, has enjoyed a similarly redemptive story arc on the first day. He, too, did not play the T20I series and was involved in a spat with his board. He looked especially fresh today. He was instrumental in turning the momentum around in the early overs of the partnership, removing the sting of Shaheen Shah Afridi with the expertise of a beekeeper and setting the wheels in motion for a Bangladesh revival. By stumps, he, too, was closing in on a hundred, just 18 away from his eighth Test match three-figure score. The last two times he reached that mark, he had gone on to score double-hundreds.

In the morning, Mominul Haque continued the trend Mahmudullah had started in the T20Is by besting Babar Azam at the toss, and, like Mahmudullah, opted to bat first.

But it was Pakistan, who called the early shots, dominating the morning with a new ball that found a surprising amount of swing. However, with Saif Hassan willing to drive on the up and put anything too straight away to the leg-side boundary, it was the effort ball from Afridi that fetched Pakistan’s first wicket. The left-arm quick banged one in that threatened to lodge up the batter’s nostrils, and the desperate fend from Saif found Abid Ali at short leg.

His opening partner Shadman Islam fell to an inswinging ball from around the wicket from Hasan Ali - who had been somewhat wayward up till then - that trapped him in front, beating the left-hander on the angle. Spinner Sajid Khan got into the act shortly after, coaxing an edge from Mominul, which the umpire somehow missed, only for the decision to be overturned on review. 

Pakistan threatened to run riot when Faheem Ashraf had Najmul Hossain Shanto caught sharply at point by Sajid, bringing Mushfiqur and Liton to the crease.