Mehedi five-for gives Bangladesh control

Lunch England 163 for 8 (Woakes 12*, Rashid 7*) trail Bangladesh 220 by 57 runs
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Mehedi Hasan’s second five-wicket haul in as many Tests left England sagging on the ropes in Mirpur as Bangladesh continued the fightback they had begun with the ball on the first evening. A battling fifty from Joe Root was as good as it got for England and at lunch they were left to contemplate giving up a significant lead in the second Test.

The lift in confidence England surely gained from taking Bangladesh’s last nine wickets for 49 runs did not sustain them long on a pitch that was perfectly suited to the talents of the home attack. Mushfiqur Rahim bowled his three spinners throughout an extended morning session – which spanned almost 40 overs – and saw the match steadily swing back in the direction of his side.

Chris Woakes and Adil Rashid strung together a partnership until the break, edging England past 150, though both needed some luck to survive. Woakes was given out caught behind but successfully reviewed, while Mushfiqur’s resort to the DRS could not dislodge Rashid after the ball deflected off his body to slip. Rashid could also have been stumped when Mushfiqur dropped the ball on to the wicket but the bails stayed in place.

After two wickets fell in the first half hour, Root provided the principal roadblock to Bangladeshi ambition. He survived one tough chance to slip and many more deliveries spitting past the bat to compile his first half-century of the winter before becoming the eighth man out shortly before lunch, swishing his bat angrily after being caught deep in the crease by a delivery from Taijul Islam that went on with the arm.

Jonny Bairstow was the only other batsman to reach 20, as he and Root lifted England’s score into three figures. Zafar Ansari, the debutant at No. 8, hung in as best he could while helping to add 26 for the seventh wicket and it took a superb reaction catch from Shuvagata Hom at gully to remove him, giving Mehedi his five-for in the process; he was only the second offspinner after Sonny Ramadhin to do so twice in his first two Test matches.

The challenge for England was clear from the outset. Moeen Ali edged the third ball of the day to slip on the bounce and there were already signs of the pitch offering more grip for spin. Fourteen runs had come from 11 deliveries in slightly frantic fashion when Moeen tried to manufacture a sweep and Mehedi slid the ball past the bottom edge to shudder off stump.

In the next over, Taijul had Ben Stokes taken at short leg for a duck, the ball spinning in sharply from over the wicket to deflect off the inside edge via the thigh pad. If that was a big wicket, the previous ball had seen Mamudullah fail to get more than fingertips on a thick edge from Root, though he had little time to react as the ball diverted past Mushfiqur’s gloves.

England were 69 for 5 and once again in need of a sixth-wicket rescue job. Bairstow provided one of sorts (these things are relative), although his 45-run association with Root was not quite enough to extend a run of 50-plus stands that had stretched back to England’s defeat to Pakistan at Lord’s in July. The Yorkshire pair were proactive in their running and watchful in defence, accepting that the ball would frequently rip past the edge of the bat but quickly resetting their sights for the next ball.

Mushfiqur turned to the DRS unsuccessfully, seeking an lbw when Root was on 33, but after their doughty association had held for 16.3 overs – by far the longest of the innings – and England were perhaps just beginning to think about parity, Bairstow played absentmindedly around Mehedi’s first ball back into the attack to be pinned in front of his stumps.

While Root was still at the crease, gliding back and forth on his toes, England could feel they were still in the fight but, having seen Taijul spin the ball almost at right angles past his bat, he was defeated by the very next delivery, one that pitched in almost exactly the same spot only to zero in on leg stump and give Bangladesh the wicket they craved.

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick

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Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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