CHITTAGONG: Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim hit an unbeaten 62 yesterday to steer his team to 253-6 at the end of the first day after winning the toss and batting in pursuit of a historic test series victory over Australia.
Rahim stalled the Australians progress after offspinner Nathan Lyon (5-77) put the visitors in commanding position with his second straight five-for. Bangladesh slumped to 117-5 before Rahim and Sabbir Rahman combined for a 105-run sixth wicket stand.
Rahman made his career best 66, a fourth half-century, with six fours and one six off 113 balls. In his almost chanceless innings, Rahim negotiated 149 balls and sent the ball across the rope five times.
“I couldn’t keep my balance. We would have been in a better position had I remained unbeaten. But I thought we did well today,” Sabbir said of his dismissal. “The wicket isn’t easy to bat on, but we did try to play till the end of the day. Mushfiqur and Nasir are still out there. “I am not really sure what is good score here. We just have to bat as long as possible.”
Rahim came to the crease after Lyon removed the top four batsmen, all trapped lbw, to leave Bangladesh at 85-4. Lyon dismissed Tamin Iqbal (9), Imrul Kayes (4) and Soymya Sarkar (33) in the opening session of the second test to have Bangladesh reeling at 70-3, then added the wicket of Mominul Haque (31) in the second session.
It was the first time in test cricket that one bowler had dismissed the top four batsmen leg before wicket. “At the moment, we need to go out there and take the four wickets and bowl really well in partnerships like we started off this morning,” Lyon said. “There’s not much spin there at the moment so it’s a good challenge for us spinners to challenge the batters and challenge their defense on a wicket like this.”
Bangladesh, on a high after its first-ever test victory over Australia last week, made only one change to its winning lineup and was upbeat after winning the toss for the second time in the series. But the Australians, making two changes to allow for a three-pronged spin attack, made early inroads when Lyon dismissed Tamim with a quicker ball in the 10th over. Tamim scored half-centuries in both innings in the first test and his loss was an early setback for the hosts.
Lyon tested the Bangladesh batsmen with his straight and quicker deliveries as he operated tirelessly after opening the bowling with paceman Pat Cummins. Lyon also trapped out-of-form Imrul Kayes for 4, with a straight delivery that skidded to baffle the batsman. Australia won a video review to dismiss him after umpire Nigel Llong ruled it not out. Soumya Sarkar tried to dominate Lyon, hitting him a boundary and a six in an over, but he fell to quicker delivery on the stroke of lunch, ending his 81-ball innings and a 49-run stand for the third wicket.
Mominul Haque, who replaced paceman Shafiul Islam to bolster Bangladesh’s batting, was out in the 34th over. Rahim then shared 32-run stand with Shakib Al Hasan, who scored 24 before left-arm spinner Ashton Agar (1-46) had Shakib well caught behind by Matthew Wade in the 47th over.
Rahim’s stubbornness complemented Rahman’s aggressive batting as the duo rescued the hosts from the potential danger. Rahman failed to keep his balance to be stumped in the 82nd over as Lyon completed his 11th five-for.
Rahim ended the day along with Nasir Hossain (19 not out) without any danger. The Australians dropped batsman Usman Khawaja, picked three spinners and brought in allrounder Hilton Cartwright as a seam bowling backup for Cummins in a revamped lineup that is trying to avoid a first-ever test series defeat to Bangladesh. – AP