Woakes, Rashid turn tables on Bangladesh

Tea England 244 (Root 56, Mehedi 6-82) lead Bangladesh 220 by 24 runs
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Chris Woakes and Adil Rashid carried England into a first-innings lead © Getty Images

A record stand for the ninth wicket between Chris Woakes and Adil Rashid led to another stark reversal of fortunes in the second Test at Mirpur, as England eked out a precious first-innings lead of 24 having been eight down and 76 runs in arrears. Their 99-run partnership was eventually stopped in its tracks by the second new ball but by then Bangladesh had visibly wilted after a dominant morning session in which they had claimed 5 for 113.

Woakes became Mehedi Hasan’s sixth wicket, four runs short of a second Test half-century, but he was fortunate not to have been given out on 38, when he slapped a high full toss from Sabbir Rahman straight to midwicket. Chris Gaffaney, the TV umpire, deemed the delivery a no-ball for being above waist height – an undoubtedly harsh decision – and England, already ahead by this point, added another 22 runs to their total before being bowled out for 244.

The Woakes-Rashid partnership was England’s highest for the ninth wicket in Asia and, following Bangladesh’s slide from 171 for 1 to 220 all out on the first day, shifted the momentum once again. Mehedi’s second five-wicket haul in as many Tests had left England sagging on the ropes and despite a battling fifty from Joe Root they reached lunch eight down and contemplating a significant deficit.

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.

Woakes and Rashid were initially only focused on getting to the break, 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.

They remained glued together for almost the entirety of the afternoon session, playing straight against the softening ball and frustrating Bangladesh’s hopes of a potentially decisive lead. After 56 overs exclusively of spin, Mushfiqur finally called on his one seamer, Kamrul Islam Rabbi; Shuvagata Hom was also introduced before the captain turned, slightly in desperation, to Sabbir, who ought to have had Woakes as his first Test wicket – though it was neither a shot nor a delivery to be proud of.

Gaffaney’s decision further deflated Bangladesh and although Mehedi had Woakes smartly caught at leg slip by the diving Shuvagata and Steven Finn did not last long, edging to Mushfiqur in the next over, the scales had tipped England’s way again.

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 top-order 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 at gully to remove him, giving Mehedi his five-for in the process; he became 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 Mahmudullah 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 until Woakes and Rashid came together – 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

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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