No. 10 Abul Hasan's debut ton revives Bangladesh
Bangladesh 365 for 8 (Abul 100*, Mahmudullah 72*, Nasir 52, Edwards 5-81) v West Indies
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
West Indies bulldozed through the first eight Bangladesh wickets on a flat, low and slow Khulna pitch. In came debutant Abul Hasan, all of 20, and proceeded to do something that had been done only once before in 2059 previous Tests dating back to 1877, by Reggie Duff over a century ago in 1902. Abul, who goes around as a fast bowler, became only the second Test debutant to make a hundred at No. 10. Abul's incredible innings, and his record unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 172 with Mahmudullah, himself on 72, rescued Bangladesh from 193 for 8, and left honours even on day one.
The cluelessness of being a debutant No. 10, if any, was restricted to the first four deliveries of Abul's knock, and a few scattered nervy moments against the second new ball as he approached his hundred. Barring those, the innings was a fresh breeze of audacious boundaries, and sensible defending, which blew the spotlight away from the continuing inadequacies of the specialist Bangladesh batsmen.
He was beaten four successive times at the start by Fidel Edwards, who had come in for the injured Ravi Rampaul to take five wickets before being upstaged by Abul. The fifth delivery was timed neatly down the ground for three runs, and Abul was a changed man thereafter.
Fast bowlers were pulled and driven with panache, a medium-pacer was charged and lofted, spinners were slog-swept and cut, and all of them were defended against solidly. He even ensured a part-timer was taken for runs when he hit Marlon Samuels for three fours in an over. Soon, he was dancing out and heaving Darren Sammy for six over long-off to go past fifty.
It would be an understatement to say the assault left West Indies stunned. Coming towards the end of a hard toil on an unresponsive pitch, it gave them no time to regroup. Every delivery and everyone went for runs. Sammy was caught between going for the remaining two wickets and setting fields to plug the torrent of runs. Abul eventually forced him to set defensive fields.
It was a largely chanceless innings; he was put down once, on 42, at forward short leg off Veerasammy Permaul, who made three attempts at the catch but could not hold on. The second new ball was taken when Abul was on 84. He responded by a couple of blind charges at Edwards' short deliveries, and was fortunate not to get hit.
Abul's recovery against Edwards showed the kind of touch he was in. He coolly made room to a short of a length delivery and punched it past point for four. Some more tense moments against Edwards followed, but Abul broke into a roar after a tuck to leg for two off Sunil Narine, whose returns for this series now stand at 3 for 295.
Mahmudullah's contribution was not far behind. He let the man of the day go about his business, and motored along without fuss. He didn't try to match Abul for spectacle, although he did come close in terms of strokeplay, the highlight being a charge-and-whip off Narine which raced through square leg, and a short-arm controlled pull through midwicket off Edwards.
The ninth-wicket partnership was already Bangladesh's highest, and also the fourth-highest ever in Tests. Not even the staunchest Bangladesh supporters who had filled the stands in Khulna could have hoped for a better opening day's play at Test cricket's latest, and 107th venue, especially after the struggles of the specialist batsmen.
In each of the first two sessions, Bangladesh were jolted early. In each session, they fought back. And in each session, with depressing familiarity, they also gave away whatever ground they had regained. The result was that despite Bangladesh's best batsman, Tamim Iqbal, batting nearly two hours, and Nasir Hossain counter-attacking with a fifty, it was West Indies who dominated.
In Tamim's defence, he had at least fallen trying to preserve his wicket close to lunch. Nasir's brain fade came moments before tea, when he charged at Permaul and lofted him straight to mid-on. Till then, Nasir had batted with the confidence he had shown in Mirpur against the West Indies spinners.
After Edwards had dismissed Shakib Al Hasan and Naeem Islam in successive overs after lunch, Nasir and Mushfiqur Rahim put on 87 for the sixth wicket in quick time. From 98 for 5 to 185 for 5 had been a swift mini-recovery, but even as the crowd's hopes rose and tea beckoned, Nasir blew it.
Proceedings had been similar in the morning. West Indies started with the tactic that had won them the Mirpur Test - a barrage of short balls - but soon realised the pitch had hardly any life for the gambit to sustain for long. Sammy focussed on the old-fashioned and unglamorous strategy of sticking to one line outside off stump, varied his angle, and reaped the rewards. He broke a growing second-wicket stand by removing Shahriar Nafees, and then took the big wicket of Tamim.
Sammy's strikes won West Indies a session that seemed to be slipping away from them. Tamim and Nafees had several close moments against the short ball, with a few fends carrying over the infield, but soon settled down to play the pull effectively.
Edwards, moving the old ball at pace, was in business early in all the three sessions but no one had reckoned for Abul.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo