Abul Hasan's ton masks batting woes
Abul Hasan's stunning debut century masked everything else on the first day of the Khulna Test. Bangladesh had slipped to 193 for 8 after a Fidel Edwards five-for, but debutant Abul's free-flowing ton and his unbeaten ninth-wicket stand with Mahmudullah not only helped Bangladesh recover, it took them right in front of West Indies in the stakes for momentum.
The record 172-run partnership did a lot of things the top order or the middle order wasn't able to. The 365 that Bangladesh got to is their highest score on the first day of a Test match, but the fact that none of the top seven contributed significantly is surprising. These batsmen have now gone two innings without making a major contribution, after they had posted 556 in their first innings of the series.
Only Mahmudullah's unbeaten 72 remained a notable contribution from one of the regular batsmen, a point that could be lost to some given his position so low in the batting-order. He is not a regular No.8; the selectors slotted him in five positions in six innings last year, but his maturity is coming through.
He asked Abul to bat naturally, gave enough strike to keep him interested in the proceedings and once Abul got the hang of the bowling and the pitch, Mahmudullah batted with more ease. He has the experience of batting with the tail, but this was different. It required him to swallow the ego, seeing the lesser-known Abul hogging the limelight. But Mahmudullah, an unassuming character, today had the pleasure of watching a special innings from up close.
The trend of throwing away wickets, however, continued in the rest of the batting line-up. Tamim Iqbal and Shahriar Nafees gave away their wickets after a promising 59-run second-wicket stand. The left-handers were doing the rights things, leaving anything that created doubt and hitting anything that offered runs. Nafees looked far more comfortable against anything short, bringing out his pull shot a few times, while Tamim continued in second gear with ease against the West Indies fast bowlers. But Nafees lost concentration while trying to defend one way outside off and Tamim left a Darren Sammy delivery alone with disastrous consequences.
The Naeem Islam-Shakib Al Hasan partnership had added 167 runs for the fourth wicket in the previous Test but neither survived for more than half an hour. Naeem's was an uncharacteristic flail at a wide delivery while Shakib again fended outside off stump and was caught-behind off Edwards.
Captain Mushfiqur Rahim and Nasir Hossain added 87 for the sixth wicket with the latter taking advantage of the attacking field-set to find the gaps. He crossed his third half-century, but he played one lofted shot too many only to see one lob to mid-on off Veerasammy Permaul, while the captain edged one to the keeper.
The score at the end of the day would please Mushfiqur, especially after he had decided to bat first. But the approach of most of his batsmen and the untimely dismissals would worry him. Batsmen getting starts but falling below 30 won't win Bangladesh many sessions, let alone a whole match.
Abul's innings was the most unlikely of sources to put Bangladesh ahead in a game against a higher-ranked side, but the others now need to chip in to help the home side strengthen its hold.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Bangladesh