It was heartening to finally see Bangladesh put up some sort of a fight in a Test Match as was seen today at the ShereBangla National Stadium in Mirpur. It was an inspiring partnership of 180 for the fifth wicket between ShahriarNafees and Shakib Al Hasan that not only rescued the Tigers from a disastrous position but has also raised hopes for a better future for the minnows. Both the left handers coupled decent technique with the will to put up a price on their wickets. Their patience certainly yielded results with Shakib Al Hasan bringing up his second Test century and ShahriarNafees earning lots of respect for his 97.
There was no doubt that the early moisture in the Mirpur track had eased out and batting wasn't difficult at all in the afternoon and the evening sessions. For any good side at this level, the batsmen do cash in to make merry of the bowling. For Bangladesh, it wasn't going to be easy to implement all that practically. They already lost four wickets inside 15 overs to the new ball which was certainly made to talk by AizazCheema and UmarGul. Bangladesh in a way were lucky as Pakistan had just the two fast bowlers in their line-up and the duo of UmarGul and AizazCheema could only bowl limited spells.
While ShahriarNafees was patient in seeing off the good deliveries, his partner Shakib Al Hasan was always on the look out to score runs in his strong areas. There was hardly any trouble for this left-handed pair against the spinners as the ball didn't turn alarmingly given the fact that it was only the first day's pitch. For sure, the new ball did a lot for the technically deficient Bangladeshi batsmen. ShahriarNafees was the only batsman who could weather the storm for the Tigers. I was amused to see Shakib Al Hasan held back in the batting order perhaps to avoid the new ball. The former Skipper seemed to be hiding at no.6 but he did well to produce a knock that proved his class yet again.
ShahriarNafees did deserve a century like Shakib Al Hasan, but the former got a nasty rising delivery from UmarGul which he was forced to glove to the keeper. The 25-year-old ShahriarNafees certainly has age in his favour and if he bats the way he did today, then he can expect to score more consistently for Bangladesh. Of late, Shakib Al Hasan has been the only batsman delivering on a consistent basis for the Tigers and its time that others also contribute to ease the pressure off his young shoulders. Shakib who remained unbeaten on 108 at stumps on Day 1 has to start fresh again tomorrow and will have to keep on batting with a sensible head.
- BV Swagath