Pakistan fight back after Kapali hat-trick puts Bangladesh on top
Alok Kapali is all smiles after wrapping up Pakistan's innings with a hat-trick
Twelve wickets tumbled in a pulsating day of Test cricket as Bangladesh grabbed the initiative, and then saw it slip away in the final 75 minutes of play. There was a hat-trick for Alok Kapali, a first-innings lead for Bangladesh - both being firsts for them in Tests - and a heroic bowling performance by Mohammad Rafique, but Pakistan fought back with four wickets in Bangladesh's second innings. The end result of all the frenetic action was that Bangladesh - 66 runs in the lead after the first innings - ended the third day at Peshawar on 52 for 4, an overall lead of 118.
Kapali will probably hog the headlines in the morning papers for taking the last three wickets in Pakistan's innings off successive balls, but the hero for Bangladesh was Rafique, who toiled relentlessly through the first two sessions. He bowled 29 overs out of the 60 bowled by his team in the first two sessions, and thoroughly deserved figures of 5 for 118 - only his second five-for in Tests.
Bangladesh's only win in an ODI against a Test-playing nation had come against Pakistan; now, faced with the prospect of being their first victim in Tests, Pakistan, lead by Shoaib Akhtar, hit back in the field. Javed Omar, centurion in the first innings, was snaffled by Rashid Latif for a duck in the first over (7 for 1). Hannan Sarkar followed soon after, edging a drive to slip (20 for 2).
Habibul Bashar counter-attacked in typical fashion with a breezy 28, before Pakistan struck again with two wickets in consecutive balls: Mohammad Ashraful nicked to first slip off Danish Kaneria (43 for 3), while Umar Gul trapped Bashar in front with the first ball off the next over. Kapali and Rajin Saleh hung on grimly before bad light intervened.
Mohammad Rafique celebrates after getting through Inzamam's defences © AFP
Earlier, Rafique and Kapali combined to hand a definite advantage to Bangladesh at the half-way stage of the match. Resuming at 134 for 2, Taufeeq Umar and Inzamam-ul-Haq were restricted to a mere 25 runs from 13 overs in the first hour, before Umar nicked the first ball after the drinks break to Khaled Mashud (159 for 3). Rafique then nailed Inzamam, getting through his defences after Inzamam had battled 137 balls for 43 (178 for 4).
Latif and Youhana wrested back the initiative with a 64-run stand, but Bangladesh never eased the pressure in the field. Rafique struck twice in quick succession, having Latif stumped for 40 (242 for 5) and Shoaib Malik lbw. Khaled Mahmud then dismissed Shoaib Akhtar, before conjuring up a masterstroke: he tossed the ball to Kapali.
Kapali didn't take long to vindicate the faith reposed by his captain. The fifth ball of his first over had Shabbir Ahmed spooning a catch to Mashrafe Mortaza at mid-off (289 for 8). Next ball, Kaneria was adudged lbw when he shouldered arms to a straight ball which was clearly missing off stump. The first ball of Kapali's next over was another straight one, this time spearing in towards off stump. Gul played no stroke, umpire Russel Tiffin upheld the appeal, and all the Bangladesh players gathered around in a huddle to celebrate a special moment, even as Youhana cut a forlorn figure, unbeaten on 64.
At the change of innings, Bangladesh clearly had Pakistan on the mat, before the Shoaib Akhtar-led late strikes levelled things for Pakistan. If Bangladesh manage to add about 130 more, they could yet be sniffing their first Test win.