August 20, 2003

Bangladesh's batsmen fritter away starts to finish on 278 for 9

Wisden CricInfo staff

Close Bangladesh 278 for 9 (Bashar 71, Kapali 46, Sarkar 41)

Habibul Bashar acknowledges his half-century, which came off just 49 balls

Bangladesh rode on a run-a-ball 71 from Habibul Bashar, and useful contributions from most of the top order, to reach 278 for 9 at the end of the first day's play at the National Stadium in Karachi. Bashar's 114-run second-wicket stand with Hannan Sarkar (41) put Bangladesh in control, but Pakistan chipped away with wickets in the last two sessions to pull things back.

It was a fair effort by Bangladesh's batsmen, especially considering the fact that they were asked to make first use of a pitch which had a fair smattering of grass, but it could have been much better had their batsmen not thrown away starts. Four of the top six passed 25, but only Bashar managed a half-century.

Bashar's knock was a chancy one - there were plenty of airy drives as he flailed at deliveries with minimal footwork - but his onslaught ensured that Bangladesh snatched the initiative after the early loss of Javed Omar, yorked by Umar Gul for 1 (9 for 1). It was Gul's first Test wicket, but he marred his debut performance with plenty of loose balls later in the day.

Even as Bashar tonked the ball around, Hannan Sarkar made an assured 41. Fresh from two fifties in the second Test against Australia, he was compact in defence and showed excellent judgment around the off stump. Bangladesh went into the lunch interval at a healthy 97 for 1, but spoilt all the good work with some reckless shots in the next two sessions.

Sarkar gloved a leg-side lifter from Shabbir Ahmed to Rashid Latif (123 for 2), and four balls later, Bashar played a shockingly irresponsible stroke. A cross-batted swipe off Shoaib Akhtar presented Mohammad Hafeez with a simple catch at extra-cover.

Shoaib then trapped Sanwar Hossain in front for 15 (146 for 4), and when debutant Rajin Saleh threw away a promising debut innings of 26 with a rash lofted shot off Danish Kaneria, Pakistan were on top (176 for 5).

Alok Kapali put on a stubborn partnership of 55 with Khaled Mashud, and then decided that he was done with grafting. Another reckless lofted shot off Kaneria found Shabbir Ahmed at mid-off (231 for 6), and Kapali trudged back for 46.

The lower order offered brief resistance, but with conditions getting increasingly murky - and Pakistan armed with the second new ball - the umpires called off play with seven overs still left in the day.

Meanwhile, there was good news for the Pakistan camp when Latif's finger injury, sustained while keeping wicket, turned out to be nothing more than a bruise. Latif had left the field after hurting a finger in his right hand, but x-rays revealed that he could return to his wicketkeeping duties tomorrow.