Bangladesh battle back after Stokes secures England lead

England 293 (Moeen 68, Bairstow 52, Mehedi 6-80) and 28 for 3 (Duckett 0*) lead Bangladesh 248 (Tamim 78, Mushfiqur 48, Stokes 4-26) by 73 runs
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‘Bangladesh made it tough for us’ – Batty

Ben Stokes produced a superb spell of hostile reverse-swing bowling to secure a precious 45-run lead for England, but Bangladesh battled back fiercely to remove the prized scalps of Alastair Cook, Joe Root and Ben Duckett before lunch as the first Test at Chittagong went into fast-forward during a thrilling morning session.

By lunch, England were feeling the heat on 28 for 3, an overall lead of 73, with Gary Ballance yet to get off the mark. With men round the bat, and a constant probing diet of spin from Bangladesh’s likeliest wicket-takers, Mehedi Hasan and Shakib Al Hasan, the significance of England’s own success with the ball could hardly have been more apparent. Any chase in excess of 200 on this surface looks sure to be an awkward one.

After coming out to bat in the second hour of the morning, England’s openers, Cook and Duckett, launched their innings with some intent, showing good footwork and a willingness to rotate the strike. But then Mehedi, the star of the first innings, slid through a quicker one that turned just enough to demand a defensive prod from Cook, and he was gone for 12, caught at slip by Mahmudullah.

One over later, Root was gone as well, as he dropped to one knee in an attempt to sweep against Shakib, only to be pinned plumb in front of middle and leg – an optimistic review couldn’t save his bacon. And right on the stroke of lunch, Bangladesh made it three wickets for two runs in 20 balls, when Duckett lobbed a catch to short leg as he propped forward to Mehedi.

In dramatic scenes, Bangladesh had re-established the position that they had squandered in the first hour, after resuming on 221 for 5, and Shakib’s own bowling had helped to atone for a somewhat brainless piece of batting. As their last remaining senior batsman, his presence had been crucial if Bangladesh hoped to draw level on first innings. Instead, he came galloping down the pitch to Moeen Ali’s second delivery of the day and was stumped by three yards by Jonny Bairstow.

Adil Rashid, who had been off the pace on the second day, was thrown the ball with Bangladesh’s tailenders in his sights and responded with the scalp of the nightwatchman, Shafiul Islam, who slogged a looping legbreak into the hands of Stuart Broad at mid-on for 2.

Thereafter, it was over to Stokes, whose late dismissal of Mushfiqur Rahim on the second evening had been so vital in keeping England in the contest. Though the new ball had been due within six overs of the start of play, Alastair Cook trusted his man to produce more of the same, and he duly delivered with three more wickets to complete innings figures of 4 for 26 in 14 overs, including 4 for 10 in his last ten.

With the ball moving both ways seemingly at will, from over and round the wicket, Stokes was threatening left- and right-handers alike on both sides of the bat, as well as flush on the helmet, when he pinned the debutant Sabbir Rahman with a pinpoint bouncer.

Mehedi Hasan, also on debut, was the first of his morning’s victims, as he bent one back into his pads to trap him in front of leg, and with his tail up, Stokes extracted the last two men in the space of four balls. Sabbir was scooped up at slip by Cook, as Stokes went wider on the crease to attack the splice, before Kamrul Islam Rabbi left a straight one to have his off stump plucked out for a duck.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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