Pakistan make reckless Bangladesh pay

The senior batsmen – Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Ashraful and Shakib Al Hasan – led the way, succumbing to three of the more atrocious shots of the morning, and the lower order followed suit in the afternoon. Bangladesh were eventually dismissed for 135 in less than two sessions, proving additional strength to the growing criticism of their Test status. 

The situation would have been worse had Nazimuddin not batted with more grit on debut than some of his colleagues have shown in the entire year. His 31 and Nasir Hossain’s free-spirited 41 contributed more than half the total. The Pakistan openers – Mohammad Hafeez and Taufeeq Umar – put Bangladesh’s performance and the pitch in perspective with an unbeaten 132-run stand. 

Obduracy is not beyond Bangladesh – they routinely give up stiff ODI chases and bat out time, as they did in the second ODI – but they refuse to show that characteristic in the format where it is a pre-requisite. Bangladesh underlined why they hadn’t managed even a draw against a full-strength top-flight side in over 10 years, without assistance from the weather. 

Misbah undermined his decision to bowl by handing the new ball to Mohammad Hafeez – the first time a Pakistan spinner was bowling the first over of a Test. The experiment was quickly shelved after Hafeez’s bunny, Tamim, survived his first three overs. Aizaz Cheema replaced Hafeez, and angled his fourth ball across Tamim, who responded with a loose drive away from his body and edged behind. In Cheema’s next over, Shahriar Nafees fell for a duck while defending in front of his body without decisive footwork. 

While Cheema specialised in big inswingers bowled from wide of the crease, Umar Gul settled into his usual mix of legcutters, indippers, and tempting half-volleys. Mohammad Ashraful’s comeback lasted 11 balls, before he produced a mirror-image of Tamim’s dismissal. The away-going delivery was not quite there for the drive, but he threw his hands at it and nicked behind. 

Mushfiqur Rahim started with a promising off-drive for four, but Saeed Ajmal trapped him in his first over with a sharp offbreak. Shakib produced the illusion of stability by hanging around for eight overs, before the rash-stroke epidemic got to him. With ten minutes to go for lunch, and men around the bat, he swept Abdur Rehman straight to square leg. 

Nazimuddin battled through it all, showing exemplary judgement against short balls and swing. He repeatedly dropped his wrists and swayed out of line when tested by bounce, and covered the line of length deliveries. A series of rasping drives showed that he belonged, before he betrayed his inexperience with two needless flirts outside the off stump. The first edge landed short of the slips, but the second carried to Hafeez. 

By now Ajmal had settled into his nagging lines from round the wicket, tossing up doosras, sliders and offbreaks from similar trajectories. Mahmudullah was lbw playing back to a slider, while Elias Sunny nicked another to slip. Nasir did the right thing in the circumstances, chancing his arm while he still had partners. The best of his shots came against Cheema, whom he pulled, glanced, hooked and drove for boundaries. He also heaved Ajmal for a six down the ground, and eased him through the covers for four as Bangladesh nursed hopes of getting to 150. They were denied by another hare-brained shot, when Nasir paddled Rehman onto his jaw en route to silly point. 

After tea, Hafeez began an afternoon of accumulation by flicking his first ball for three. As always Hafeez’s driving was top-class, but Bangladesh’s indiscipline also allowed him to cut and glance for early boundaries. Shahadat Hossain and Rubel Hossain bowled six listless overs that yielded 33 runs before Mushfiqur brought on his crew of spinners. 

Whenever the spinners over-pitched, Taufeeq was completely at ease, driving and flicking with a strong bottom hand. That prompted a change in approach from Bangladesh’s spinners – the one department in which they can claim to be world class. They shortened the length, and Taufeeq repeatedly pushed in hope with an opened face as the ball spun away. The edge inevitably followed, but Mushfiqur could not hold on. Mahmudullah got Taufeeq edging three more times – on either side of Nafees at slip, and once on the bounce. 

Hafeez had no such worries, though, and strolled past fifty with a cover-driven four. Shahadat then dropped Taufeeq in the final over, denying Bangladesh the sliver they could have taken out of the day.

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