Taijul Islam seven-for leaves Bangladesh 44 ahead despite Abid Ali century


The left-arm spinner got two wickets in two balls in the first over of the day before Mehidy Hasan Miraz dismissed Fawad Alam

The answer to “how do you break a big partnership when the bowlers run out of ideas” clearly seems to be to sleep on it. For the second day in succession, the bowling side found an almost immediate breakthrough in the morning that had eluded them for the previous two sessions. This time Bangladesh were the beneficiaries, breaking a 146-run stand off just the fifth ball of the morning, before Taijul Islam made it two in two by following up the Abdullah Shafique dismissal with a golden duck for Azhar Ali.
Babar Azam and Fawad Alam were then added to the casualty list in a session which the Bangladesh spinners commanded from start to finish, leaving Pakistan somewhat precariously perched at 203 for 4 at lunch, still 127 runs behind. However, Abid Ali batted relentlessly from one end, having reached his fourth Test hundred, even if, in a session like this, it felt like a footnote.

Taijul bowled the first over of the morning well, and from the get-go, Bangladesh had their tails up. Shafique was fortunate to survive an lbw appeal early on in his innings when Bangladesh failed to review, but when Taijul skidded one through, the debutant’s bat came down far too late to trap him lbw. Azhar, struggling for runs, was squared up by one that turned away and struck him on the back leg first ball, and even though the umpire turned Bangladesh down, they were not about to let this one go unreviewed. The ball was hitting middle, and Azhar walked back in front of a Chattogram crowd that felt fully alive despite the early morning start.

It appeared to be one of those wickets where you don’t truly appreciate the value of a partnership until it is broken. As Bangladesh’s lower middle order struggled to achieve the sure-footedness of Mushfiqur Rahim and Liton Das, Babar – and Fawad after him – never once looked comfortable against a Bangladesh spin attack that prowled, hunting for wickets. The Pakistan captain was done by a lovely bit of bowling from Mehidy Hasan Miraz, as he played completely down the wrong line only to see the ball cannon into off stump.

It was Fawad’s dismissal, though, that might illustrate the advantage of not having to bat last. One from Taijul appeared to have landed in a footmark and ripped back in to tuck Fawad up, the ball kissing his glove on its way through to a sharp catch by the keeper.

From the other end, Abid was a sea of calm. He had watched the drama unfold, and brought up three figures early in the session with a flick through midwicket. He wasn’t totally immune from hazard though, fortunate to see first slip fluff up an outside edge; but for the most part, he seemed to be batting on a different wicket. Off the final ball of the session, he saw Taijul had drop it short, and didn’t hesitate to rock back and carve it through point, bringing up Pakistan’s 200.

It felt an apt conclusion to a session, foreshadowing the battle between the two sides’ best players on the day, each jostling to help their side get that all-important first-innings lead.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000

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