After some crushing victories in one-day and Twenty20 internationals followed by a scintillating come-from-behind draw in the first Test, Bangladesh were finally given a reality check by Pakistan on the second day of the second Test match in Dhaka on Thursday. The Tigers are now looking for the kind of miracle that had saved them in Khulna, having seen five batsmen already back to the pavilion with 251 runs still needed just to avoid the follow-on.
As paceman Shahadat Hossain is injured out from the Test they are effectively six wickets down, leaving the unbeaten overnight Sakib al Hasan to face an uphill task to lift the side from a precarious 107-5.
Sakib, 14 not out, who was dropped by Younis Khan off the first ball he faced, has now only Soumya Sarkar and Shuvagata Hom among the recognised batsmen to accompany him for the remainder of the innings.
Given that Soumya was playing only his second Test and Shuvagata is still untested at the Test match level, the all-rounder now must build on his luck, something akin to Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali.
Azhar made the most of his reprieve off a no-ball on 18 to score his maiden double century lifting Pakistan to 557-8 before they declared their first innings at the tea break.
Right-handed Azhar hit 226 off 428 balls and was involved in two 200-plus partnerships, firstly with Younis (148) and then on the second day with Asad Shafiq, who also scored a century – 107 off 167 balls.
Shuvagata dismissed both the batsmen in his successive overs before left-arm spinner Taijul Islam claimed two wickets in one over to force a declaration from Pakistan.
It gave Bangladesh some breathing space finally after they were at the receiving end during the most part of the day despite a promising start in the morning.
Sakib bowled Mishah-ul Haq only in the second over with a straight ball that took slight turn beyond the expectation of Pakistan captain to whip off his bails.
Azhar and Asad denied Bangladesh further success for a long period and put 207 runs for the fifth wicket until Shuvagata made both the batsmen a catch of Mahmudullah at long off.
Sharfraz Ahmed was unbeaten on 21 when the declaration came, which only indicated they could have batted few more overs if they wanted to put Bangladesh under few more runs.
But desperate for a win at the final match of their month-long tour, Mishbah took a gamble and was rewarded for his sagacity almost immediately as Junaid Khan struck in his first over.
Bangladesh, unlucky throughout the Test match, saw their star batsman Tamim Iqbal was adjudged leg-before off the fourth ball to a delivery that pitched out the off stump and hit him above the knee roll.
Tamim reviewed it inevitably but the decision of umpire Paul Reiffel remained upheld as replay suggested the ball was marginally hitting the top of his leg stump.
Barring Tamim the other batsmen however can make little excuses as they were unable to protect their wicket, sometime with injudicious shots and sometime with good balls.
Mominul Haque was guilty of flashing a ball that he could easily let go while Imrul Kayes charged Yasir Shah down the wicket to miss the line and get bowled after six impressive fours helped him fetch 32 runs.
Light was fading fast when Mahmudullah edged Wahab Riaz at slip to Azhar for 28 but despite a sign of danger Mushfiqur Rahim preferred to join Sakib instead of sending a nightwatchman.
Mushfiq, whose wisdom was questioned many ways in this Test, paid the price by being bowled in the penultimate delivery.
After four typical leg-spinning deliveries Yasir Shah tested him with a googley that the Bangladesh captain was unable to anticipate.
Yasir celebrated in a manner as if he had just won the Test match and he had every right to feel so.
-With New Age input