Sakib al Hasan and Shahriar Nafees defied a chilly weather and a strong Pakistani attack to lift Bangladesh to a respectable 234-5 with a record 180-run partnership on the opening day of second Test in Dhaka on Saturday. Sakib got his second Test century along the way to stay 108 not out while Nafees missed out on the feat only by a whisker having fallen for 97 runs with only a few overs to go in the final session.
Nafees’s dismissal to a superb Umar Gul bouncer made the fans somewhat disheartened but it already gave Bangladesh some confidence they were badly looking for throughout the series.
The confidence was best demonstrated by the next batsman Mushfiqur Rahim, who sent the first ball he faced beyond the boundary rope and stayed unbeaten on five finally to accompany Sakib on the second day.
Things could have easily gone the opposite way if Sakib and Nafees had not shown a rare resilience. Pakistan had won a very good toss and made no mistake in opting to bowl on a day when play was delayed for more than an hour due to fog.
Aizaz Cheema made the most of the condition to take three quick wickets and when Tamim Iqbal decided to commit suicide too soon to a short ball it left Bangladesh stuttering again.
But Nafees came with a different frame of mind in this game and gave every ball its due respect before picking the bad ones for hitting. His body language was questioned in the previous games and so his performance under scrutiny.
Nafees knew one more failure would do a big damage to his career, so he was not ready to take any chance. An uncharacteristically circumspect Nafees found a worthy partner in Sakib at a time when Bangladesh reeling at 43-4.
They carefully saw off the few overs in the first session and denied Pakistan any wicket in the next session to put 99 runs on board. It was a subject of research when Bangladesh had last batted out a session, but there were few more surprises on card.
The duo nearly did it in the final session until Gul produced the gem of a delivery that rose sharply and hit Nafees on his gloves before the ball perched into the safe hands of Adnan Akmal behind the stumps.
It ended Bangladesh’s record 167-run partnership against Pakistan in eight Tests, set by Javed Omar and Habibul Bashar at Peshawar in 2003.
The pair had already surpassed Bangladesh’s previous highest fifth-wicket stand of 144, set by Mehrab Hossain Jr and Mushfiqur Rahim against New Zealand in 2008.
Hardly anyone had imagined this could happen after Bangladesh’s day began with being at the receiving end of an lbw decision against Nazimuddin, the most successful batsman in the previous Test.
Nazim attempted to leave the ball but it took some movement to hit him on the thigh pad and the umpire raised his finger after a meek lbw appeal by bowler Cheema handing him a six-ball duck.
Gul then removed the under-performing Tamim Iqbal (14) when the Bangladesh opener’s attempted a hook shot ignoring the need of the hour only to be caught by Cheema at backward fine-leg.
Cheema returned to bowl out Mahmudullah for a first-ball duck and when he had Nasir Hossain caught behind for seven a familiar tale of toiling for runs began. Thanks to Sakib and Nafees they had just managed to avoid the struggle and can now think of a total that was initially tough to envisage.
-With New Age input