In this day and age T20 cricket, a score of 236 in a day of play lasting 90 overs looks completely out of place. But, time and again, Test cricket delivers such days to serve a reminder that cricket is not all about slam bang stuff. Tuesday at Khulna was one such day. Bangladesh riding high on their 3-0 thrashing of Pakistan in the one-dayers would have been keen to get off to a confident start in the five-day version as well. Ending day one at 236 for 4 were not exceptional returns, after winning the toss, but they should not be displeased either.
The story of the opening day was how Bangladesh’s batsmen build consistent partnerships, and how Pakistan’s bowlers kept striking every time it seemed Bangladesh were gaining the ascendancy. In the end, neither side could claim to have the upper hand at the end of day one. Momimul Haque was the star of the show for Bangladesh with 80, Imrul Kayes got a half-century while Mahmudullah missed out on one by a run. Tamim Iqbal got to 25, but could not carry on. He should be disappointed with the timing of his dismissal.
Having batted first, Bangladesh were off to a sedate start as openers Kayes and Iqbal added 52 for the first wicket. They were lucky as Mohammad Hafeez dropped Iqbal at slip when on16, and Yasir Shah and Azhar Ali gave reprieves to Kayes at the other end. Disappointingly, neither could make full use of the same. Iqbal perished giving a catch to Azhar off Shah’s bowling while Kayes was caught and bowled by Hafeez after having scoring a painstaking 51 off 130 balls. Pakistan were 92 for 2 when Kayes was dismissed.
It was Mominul who stood out with his resistance. He has a habit of constantly notching up half-centuries, and Tuesday was another day in the office for him. He featured in key stands with Kayes, Mahmudullah and Shakib Al Hasan, thus ensuring that Pakistan did not wickets in a heap. He anchored the innings almost till the very end, but could not see the team through. On 80, he was trapped lbw by Zulfiqar Babar, off the penultimate ball of the day. The wicket meant Pakistan ended the day on a high although the honours were shared.
While Bangladesh would be pleased by their overall effort, they would be disappointed that too many batsmen fell when they should have carried on. Mahmudullah is a case in point. He and Momimul had taken the score of 187 for 2, and Bangladesh were looking in a commanding position when Mahmudullah fell to a nice reverse swinging ball fromWahaz Riaz. While Pakistan did not manage to break through the Bangladesh defence, they were steady with Riaz, Hafeez, Babar and Shah claiming a wicket each. With neither side having the ascendancy, both teams would look to gain the upper hand on day two.
--By A Cricket Correspondent