Brisk Tamim fifty puts England on back foot

Lunch Bangladesh 118 for 1 (Tamim 68*, Mominul 44*) v England
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Mushfiqur Rahim set to play in 50th Test

Tamim Iqbal marched to an imperious half-century on the opening morning in Mirpur as Bangladesh reached the lunch break with just one wicket down and a few psychological blows already inflicted on England’s beleaguered spinners. Tamim’s eighth 50-plus score against England in 11 innings came after Chris Woakes had picked up a wicket in his second over and helped Bangladesh respond by putting on a rousing century stand with Mominul Haque.

Alastair Cook struggled for control throughout the session, with only Ben Stokes going at less than three runs an over. Zafar Ansari, into the side as one of two changes from England’s victory in Chittagong, saw his six overs taxed to the tune of 36 runs, as Tamim motored to a 60-ball fifty – and that after failing to score off his first 19 deliveries during a watchful opening against the new ball. He also successfully utilised the review system, such a feature of the first Test, by overturning a caught-behind decision on 66, shortly before the break.

England had initially found success after being put into the field, throttling the scoring and removing Imrul Kayes for 1, cutting lackadaisically to point. After four overs the card read 1 for 1, before Mominul eased the pressure with a brace of boundaries off Woakes; Tamim, meanwhile, was content to bide his time against Woakes and Steven Finn, back in the side for the rested Stuart Broad.

On a dry pitch, for which Bangladesh had selected four spinners, Cook turned to Moeen Ali in the seventh over. While he began tidily enough, the sight of spin encouraged Tamim to kick into gear and he stepped out drive his first boundary a couple of overs later. Three fours off Woakes – leg-side flick, back-foot drive and a meaty pull – confirmed that he had hit his stride.

Two more boundaries came in the next over, as Tamim welcomed the debutant Ansari by driving him through the covers and down the ground. Ansari did succeed in drawing an edge with his second delivery, though it scuttled wide of slip for three, and his opening over in international cricket (his contribution limited to fielding in his only ODI to date) went for 13 runs, England still no nearer to finding a spinner who could offer control.

Mominul’s first three scoring shots went for four but he then ceded the impetus to his partner, as Bangladesh reached the top of the hour in a much more comfortable position at 67 for 1, with England also wasting a review against Tamim when he padded up to a Moeen delivery that was shown to be bouncing over the stumps. Tamim’s fifty came up via a sweep off Ansari and it took a vigorous spell from Stokes to ensure Bangladesh’s progress would not be completely unfettered.

It was Stokes who thought he had broken through, too, when Kumar Dharmasena raised his finger for a catch down the leg side. However, DRS quickly confirmed that the ball had flicked Tamim’s thigh pad rather than glove, the latest in a procession of successful reviews in this series. Mominul then added the 15th boundary of the morning, off Adil Rashid, to move within sight of his own half century and ensure Bangladesh went in to lunch far the happier of the two sides.

Mushfiqur Rahim had earlier won the toss in his 50th Test and decided to bat first, just the fortune he must have hoped for after electing to go with a fourth spinner – Shuvagata Hom taking the place vacated by Shafiul Islam – on a cracked surface that was expected to turn. “Batting wise it will be a bit easier than Chittagong and hopefully we will put up a big score,” Mushfiqur said. Of his achievement in becoming the third Bangladeshi to play 50 Tests, he said: “It’s been a long journey, 11 years.”

England had already confirmed two changes to the team that won a nail-biting first Test by 22 runs in Chittagong and Ansari was handed his cap by Mark Ramprakash – a former team-mate at Surrey – in the huddle beforehand. His inclusion at Gareth Batty’s expense was in part aimed at giving him an opportunity ahead of five Tests in India but Cook said he was confident that rotation had not weakened his hand. “We never pick a team we think is going to lose,” Cook said. “The guys are extremely good players coming in.”

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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