Tea Bangladesh 221 for 5 (Tamim 78, Mushfiqur 48) trail England 293 (Moeen 68, Bairstow 52, Mehedi 6-80) by 72 runs
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Tamim Iqbal and Mahmudullah steadied the innings for Bangladesh © AFP
Tamim Iqbal produced a mature and restrained innings of 78 from 179 balls, as Bangladesh set the tempo once again against a curiously passive England attack to reach the close of the second day at Chittagong in a hugely promising position.
By the close, England’s lead had been whittled down to a meagre 72 runs with five wickets still in hand, thanks to a 58-run stand between Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan, who continued Tamim’s business-like theme on a wicket that offered turn and bounce but perhaps less venom than might have been anticipated once the hardness of the new ball had been negotiated.
The pair had taken their stand to the brink of stumps, when – with the shadows lengthening and England’s heads beginning to drop – Ben Stokes summoned up one last bout of vigour to lure Mushfiqur, on 48, into a fatal snick to the keeper. The catch, in fact, was very nearly spilled by Jonny Bairstow as he tumbled forward to snatch at a rare opportunity, but he somehow clung on to give England late reward for a day’s work full of effort but somewhat lacking in inspiration.
In fact, had it not been for Bangladesh’s peculiar aversion to breaks in play, their position could have been all the more promising by the close. In addition to Stokes’ late breakthrough, three of their other four wickets fell in the final over of a session – two in four balls to Moeen Ali before lunch, before a further breakthrough for Adil Rashid on the stroke of tea. Mushfiqur’s departure left a huge onus on the shoulders of Shakib, who reached the close on 31 not out, and who will resume tomorrow knowing that the second new ball will be available within the first half-hour of play.
The day’s most prized scalp, however, went to the oldest spinner in town. In the 14th over of his England comeback – at the age of 39 and having missed the small matter of 142 Test matches since his last appearance, also against Bangladesh at Chester-le-Street – Gareth Batty slid in a flatter, faster ball to Tamim Iqbal, who grazed a thin nick through to the keeper to depart for 78.
Batty’s pop-eyed roar of triumph did not merely reflect his personal jubilation. It was a fair reaction to a wicket of huge significance, for Tamim had been threatening – as he so often does against England – to seize the game for his own amusement. Remarkably, this was his seventh half-century in nine Test innings against England, dating back to his thrill-a-minute centuries at Lord’s and Old Trafford in 2010. Having laid the groundwork in a mightily restrained effort, he had looked ready to lift the tempo as England toiled in the afternoon sun.
After England had been bowled out for 293 in the first hour of the day, Tamim reined in his instincts on a treacherous surface and waited 48 balls for his first boundary – a full toss from Rashid that he rifled through the covers with power and placement. His caution had been vindicated in the final over of the morning, when his more fluent opening partner, Imrul Kayes, was bowled for 21 by a beauty from Moeen that gripped and bounced to clip his off stump, before – three balls later – Mominul Haque spliced another bouncing bomb to gully to depart for a duck and leave Bangladesh anxiously placed on 29 for 2 at the break.
But as Tamim’s innings progressed, so too did his fluency, particularly on the drive which, by staying very leg-side to the offspin of Moeen and Batty, he was always threatening to unfurl. Sure enough, he brought up his half-century from 131 balls with a sweetly-timed back-foot drill off Moeen, to confirm that Bangladesh’s 14-month absence from Test cricket had not impacted on his penchant for statement innings against his favourite opponents. He had two significant moments of fortune – first on 28 when he carved Moeen on the up through point and just burst through the fingers of Rashid, diving to his left at point. Then, on 55, he was given out caught at slip off Moeen – a fine sprawling effort by Joe Root – but successfully reviewed the decision, as replays showed it had deflected off his elbow.
The unfortunate umpire was Kumar Dharmasena, who had given Moeen out three times in six balls on the first day, only to have each decision overturned, and he had already added to that tally in the morning session, when a Stuart Broad lbw decision was shown to have been missing leg. Arguably those incidents were still playing on his mind late in the afternoon, when Mushfiqur, on 45, was rapped on the pad by Chris Woakes – one of the few genuine opportunities that England’s seamers were able to create in a torrid afternoon. HawkEye confirmed it would have been clipping leg stump, but Dharmasena seemed reluctant to put his finger on the line yet again.
Two balls after Tamim’s reprieve, however, his partner was gone instead. Mahmudullah’s innings of 38 from 66 balls had been a solid, busy performance, right from his first delivery, when he had responded to Moeen’s pre-lunch breakthroughs by galloping down the track with confident footwork to smother the spin before it could bite. But, having come within four balls of completing the entire afternoon session without losing a wicket, he succumbed to a big legbreak from Rashid that looped above his eyeline and snicked a thick edge for Root to scoop a sharp low catch at slip.
Aside from that breakthrough, however, Rashid was a disappointment – too profligate with his full tosses and too easy to navigate off the pitch on the occasions when he found significant turn. Moeen, too, failed to live up to the promise of his double-wicket breakthrough, while Batty, who had shared the new ball with Stuart Broad in a seam-spin combo, offered plenty of spirit but little significant threat until Tamim’s departure.
It was left to England’s seamers to look lively in the closing overs, as Broad responded to Stokes’ extraction of Mushfiqur by ramping up the pressure on the nightwatchman, Shafiul Islam. By and large, however, the trio – Woakes included – were economical but negated, and bowled just 23 overs between them.
All in all, England were left to reflect on a first-innings performance that they might initially have thought was above-par for the conditions. After resuming on their overnight 258 for 7, they lost Woakes, the most accomplished of their remaining batsmen, to the first ball of the day, caught at short leg off Taijul Islam for 36, and spent the next 50 minutes scraping together another 35 runs.
Rashid, with a penchant for the flick through midwicket, and Broad, using his long levers to sweep to good effect, provided the bulk of those runs but also added their names to the ever-lengthening list of DRS-related decisions in this contest.
Rashid, astonishingly, had an lbw overturned when replays showed that an apparently dead-straight pad-rapper would have missed leg stump, while Broad – the last man out – was adjudged caught behind after a rare successful review from Bangladesh – the 10th of the innings, a world record. The successful bowler was Mehedi Hasan, who completed debut figures of 6 for 80, a new national record.
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo