Pietersen fails after Tredwell stars
Close England XI 68 for 3 (Trott 32*) trail Bangladesh A 202 (Raqibul Hasan 107* Tredwell 6-95) by 134 runs
James Tredwell built a case for inclusion as England's second spinner in next week's first Test, claiming 6 for 95 in his first first-class outing in England colours, as Bangladesh A were bowled out for 202 after winning the toss in their three-day tour match at Chittagong. For that total, they were entirely indebted to the Test prospect, Raqibul Hasan, who etched his name into the Bangladesh starting line-up with a gutsy and well-compiled 107 not out from 150 balls.
By the close, however, the focus had shifted to Kevin Pietersen's continued travails - and in particular, his peculiar problem against left-arm spin. Since the opening one-day warm-up in Fatullah last month, Pietersen has made scores of 0, 6, 1, 18, 22 ... and now 2 from five balls, as he was suckered by the part-time tweakers of Mehrab Hossain Jr, who had previously managed 45 wickets in 46 first-class appearances.
At stumps, England had reached a slightly jittery 68 for 3 in reply, with Michael Carberry enduring a tough baptism at the top of the order. His inclusion had given a hint as to the direction England intend to take in the Test series, as his specialist skills were preferred ahead of the allround capabilities of Luke Wright at No. 7. But he was struck a painful blow by Dollar Mahmud in the second over of the innings, before being pinned lbw for 5 three balls later. Alastair Cook went the same way to Robiul Islam for 19, leaving Jonathan Trott unbeaten on 32.
Carberry may not get another chance to impress before the Tests, but Tredwell hardly needs to state his credentials any more clearly. Should he be selected for the Chittagong Test in five days' time, he and Graeme Swann will form England's first all-offspin attack since Such and Emburey in the 1993 Ashes, and if there are still doubts about the variety he offers, his stamina cannot be underestimated. Having entered the attack from the press box end in the 16th over of the day, he claimed five of his wickets in an unbroken 27-over spell, before switching ends and wrapping up the innings within three further deliveries.
The first of Tredwell's wickets seemed a touch fortuitous, as the opener Shamsur Rahman was given out to a diving catch by Ian Bell at short leg, even though England barely bothered to appeal as the ball looped off the pad flap. There was no arguing, however, about his second. Mohammad Ashraful came into this match needing a big score to justify his retention in Bangladesh's Test team, after his self-imposed break from the ODI series. Instead, he followed his tally of three ducks in four domestic innings for Dhaka with 1 from six balls, as Bell was once again alert under the lid to end his stay in the first over after lunch.
Raqibul, however, showed far greater powers of durability, as he produced a Test standard response to adversity. He brought up his half-century from 82 balls by sweeping Tredwell through midwicket for consecutive boundaries, and when he began to run out of partners with his hundred looming, he raised his game once again, belting Tredwell down the ground for a one-bounce four, before hoisting him through wide long-on to reach his milestone from 150 deliveries. He had been dropped for the recent Test in New Zealand following scores of 4 and 5 against India last month, but this was an innings that showcased his full credentials.
"When a player loses his place from the main team, he always feels some kind of pressure. But I took it all positively and accepted the challenge," said Raqibul. "I was not worried about it. When I went to the wicket, I decided whatever happens I will stay positive, and after tea, when I was running short of partners, I decided to attack the spinner [Tredwell], because the boundary was shorter from his end."
Nevertheless, England still had the opposite end at which to make inroads, and they did so with minimum fuss, with no other batsman managing more than Shamsur's 21. Ajmal Shahzad, one of four potential England debutants in this match, made the first breakthrough at the end of the eighth over, when Junaid Siddique poked outside off to be caught behind for 16, while Mehrab Hossain went the same way to Liam Plunkett in the penultimate over of the morning session, having laboured his way to 9 from 64 balls.
The afternoon session belonged to the young Middlesex seamer, Steven Finn, who had arrived in the country less than 24 hours before the start of play, after being flown in as injury cover for Stuart Broad and Graham Onions. His 6'7" frame had caught the eye of England's coach, Andy Flower, at a Performance Programme training session in Pretoria before Christmas, and it also proved crucial in the capturing of Tredwell's third wicket, as he leaped athletically at mid-on to intercept a swipe from Shuvagoto Hom.
But it was the pace and hostility of Finn's bowling that really impressed today. In Dhaka six years ago, Steve Harmison's height and bounce brought him nine matchwinning wickets in his only outing of the tour, and the England thinktank may well be recalling that as they ponder their options for the Test series. In two bursts of four and three overs, Finn caused endless problems for the Bangladeshi batsmen, and the wicketkeeper Sagir Hossain and Dollar were both caught behind in identical fashion - beaten by a tight line, sharp lift, and subtle late movement.
But Finn was used sparingly as he overcame his jet-lag, and it was left to Tredwell to mop up the tail. Noor Hossain (6) had a massive mow across the line as Bell collected a steepling top-edge; Syed Rasel played down the wrong line and was bowled for 1, and though Robiul Islam hung around for long enough to allow Raqibul to reach his hundred, he couldn't resist for long afterwards. Another swipe landed in the hands of Pietersen at mid-off, which turned out to be his most impressive contribution of the day.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo. Go to http://twitter.com/miller_cricket to follow him on Twitter through the England tour of Bangladesh.