With a massive lead in hand, Pakistan would have been confident of extending the dominance on day four of the Khulna Test as well. Little would they would have imaged that an under-pressure Bangladesh were to launch an all-out attack on the bowlers, the magnitude of which would neutralise Pakistan’s advantage by the end of the day’s play. Bangladesh openers Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes featured in a record, unbeaten opening stand of 273, playing some aggressive cricket. Following two sessions of counter-attacking batsmanship, Bangladesh had whittled down Pakistan’s lead to 23 with all their 10 wickets in hand.
The first few overs were quite ominous for Bangladesh openers. Tamim Iqbal survived a close lbw appeal against Junaid Khan in the very first over. But, the early scare did not stop Iqbal from being aggressive. Post lunch, he began with a stylish drive through backward point off Khan, and followed it up with back-to-back pulls for four against Wahaz Riaz. Even the when the spinners were introduced, he continued to attack. He was lucky to survive a mistimed loft against ZufliqarBabar, but drove Yasir Shah through covers as Bangladesh eased into the second innings.
At the other end, Kayes joined in the act after a circumspect start. A six and a four him off Mohammad Hafeez saw Bangladesh race past hundred as Pakistan’s bowling was put to the sword. As the ball started to reverse in the final session, the Bangladesh openers tightened their defence. But, when the loose ball presented itself, they were ready to take punitive action. A couple of fours from Iqbal off Junaid saw him get to his third hundred in as many Tests. Kayes had kept wickets for a substantial amount of time following Mushfiqur Rahim’s injury, but that didn’t stop him from battling on to get a ton.
By the end of the day’s play, Iqbal and Kayes had put Bangladesh in a position of decent comfort. They had occupied the crease for 61 overs, and had put together a record stand for their side. Iqbal was unbeaten on 138 from 183 balls, with 13 fours and 4 sixes. Kayes finished not out on 132 from 185 deliveries, and had hit 15 fours and 3 sixes. The figures told a story in itself.
The day began on a much positive note for the visitors. Resuming the day on 537 for 5, Asad Shafiq and Sarfraz Nawaz continued to bat without much trouble. With the field spread out, the duo rotated the strike calmly. A sweep by Nawaz off Taijul’s bowling brought up the century partnership between the two. Both looked set for a ton, but failed to get there. Nawaz was caught at mid-on off Mohammad Shahid’s bowling for 82. Shafiq chipped one back to Shakib Al Hasan to give him a wicket. Taijul Islam then cleaned up the tail with three quick wickets. Pakistan finished with a lead of 296. Little were they aware of the toil that was to follow.
--By A Cricket Correspondent