Taufeeq Umar added another century to his already rich haul this year, and aided by several middle-order contributions and butter-fingers from Bangladesh, cut the deficit to 46 runs.
The flamboyance of old may be missing – Pakistan rarely looked interested in pushing the tempo for much of the day – but the safety-first batting has served them well this year. Bangladesh’s attack was mostly pedestrian, and it was only with the second new ball that there was a sustained period of hostility.
In the curtailed morning session, Taufeeq and Azhar Ali blunted the bowling as they stretched the partnership beyond 100. The only real chance of a wicket before lunch was when Taufeeq missed a delivery from Shakib Al Hasan that spun down the leg side in the 36th over. Mushfiqur Rahim collected the ball, and was so certain of the caught-behind that he vociferously appealed without bothering to try stumping Taufeeq who had advanced down the track.
The day began with a 11-run over from Shahadat Hossain, but the scoring-rate returned to staid Test match levels after that. It was risk-free batting from both Taufeeq and Azhar, who were supremely patient at most times, but cashed in on the regular poor delivery. Taufeeq was very good on the cut, scoring heavily around point, while many of Azhar’s boundaries were off drives, including a classic past extra cover that took him to fifty.
The track was providing little assistance to the quicks, and to make matters worse, in the first over after lunch, Nazimuddin shelled a sitter at gully to reprieve Taufeeq. Luckily for Bangladesh, Shakib got one to spin sharply away, taking Azhar’s outside edge on the way to the keeper. Azhar, at ease against pace, wasn’t at his most assured against spin, and his dismissal for 57 meant he has only one century despite 12 fifties.
Taufeeq was unperturbed, continuing to grind the bowling even as Younis Khan took his time to settle in. The cut continued to bring in plenty of runs, there was a risky paddle for four off Shakib and an authoritative swat to midwicket off Mahmudullah. The century came up with a slap behind point for four, after which Taufeeq unleashed a bunch of off-side boundaries.
Bangladesh’s spirits were sapped further when both Younis and Taufeeq were given lives in the first two overs after tea – Younis put down at deep midwicket by Shahadat Hossain, while Taufeeq offered a tough bat-pad chance that Shahriar Nafees couldn’t latch on at short leg.
They didn’t have to wait too long for the second new ball, though, and that transformed the attack. Nazmul Hossain was outstanding as he got the ball to seam around, and thoroughly tested Younis’ technique outside off before getting Taufeeq to nick to slip.
The batting hadn’t exactly been in top gear all innings, and more enterprise was necessary if Pakistan were to aim for a victory. Even as the light faded, Younis and Misbah didn’t go into a shell, picking off the boundaries as the quick bowlers overdosed on the short ball. Their partnership raised 47 at a decidedly brisk 3.76 before play was called off with Pakistan closing in on 300. They will need more quick runs on Tuesday if they are to set up a big total that could put the traditionally fragile Bangladesh batting under pressure for the remainder of the Test.