Vernon-PhilanderCHITTAGONG: Half-centuries by Mahmudullah Riyad and Tamim Iqbal gave Bangladesh the edge over top-ranked South Africa yesterday as the unfancied hosts reached 179-4 before rain stopped play on the second day of the first Test. Mahmudullah made 67 while Tamim added a patient 57 as Bangladesh reduced their deficit to 69 runs after the Proteas were dismissed for a modest 248 in Chittagong. Vernon Philander trapped Mahmudullah legbefore just before rain ended the day’s play in the third session, swinging the game back towards the visitors after lowly Bangladesh appeared to have taken the advantage.

Mahmudullah, who hit 10 fours off 138 balls, put on 89 with Tamim for the third wicket, providing the backbone of the Bangladesh innings after the hosts resumed on Wednesday on 7-0. Tamim, who faced 129 balls, scored his first fifty against South Africa in five Tests before he was bowled by a full toss from left-arm spinner Dean Elgar on the stroke of the tea break. South Africa’s bowling coach Charl Langeveldt believes Bangladesh have a slight advantage in the game. “I think it is 60-40 in their side,” he said after stumps. “The game is fairly even. If they get a 100-run lead against us, we will be struggling. “Bangladesh really batted well. They were patient. Normally they have the second highest scoring rate. I think our guys bowled really well and Bangladesh batted well.” Bangladesh’s Mahmudullah said the third day’s opening session would be crucial for both the teams. “I think if we can spend first session tomorrow without losing any wicket we will be in the driving seat,” he said. “Anything close to 400 runs will be good score in this wicket.” Earlier in the morning session Tamim and fellow opener Imrul Kayes mixed aggression with caution to blunt the new ball, scoring 41 in the first hour. But occasional medium pacer Stiaan Van Zyl dragged Imrul out of his crease for Quinton de Kock to complete a stumping, breaking a resolute 46-run opening stand.

Imrul departed for 26 after leading the initial charge with three fours. Spinner Simon Harmer then took out Mominul Haque’s off stump to leave Bangladesh struggling on 55-2 before Tamim and Mahmudullah rebuilt the innings. Skipper Mushfiqur Rahim was unbeaten on 16 when rain stopped play for the second time with 25 overs still left in the day. Shakib Al Hasan, on one not out, will resume with his skipper on Thursday as Bangladesh push for an unprecedented Test victory against the Proteas.

Bangladesh, who have a dismal Test record, had made an impressive start to the match on the opening day on Tuesday. Paceman Mustafizur Rahman claimed 4-37 in his Test debut and leg-spinner Jubair Hossain added 3-53 as Bangladesh bowled out the visitors for 248. The second match of the two- Test series will be played in Dhaka from July 30-August 3.—AFP