Clarke gives England the edge after another collapse
Early breakthrough: Richard Johnson celebrates the wicket of Javed Omar
© Getty Images
Close Bangladesh 93 for 4 (Saleh 24*, Rahman 16*) trail England 326 (Hussain 76, Clarke 55) by 233 runs
England ended the second day of this Test holding the edge, but only after another shocking collapse in which they lost their last five wickets for 13 runs from 80 balls to be bowled out for 326. Mashrafe Mortaza took a Test-best 4 for 50 and the clatter of wickets again surrendered a strong position and threw away a good start to the day, this time by Nasser Hussain and Chris Read. Rikki Clarke did put England back on track with two quick wickets, but Bangladesh held out to close on a battling 93 for 4.
England's morning progress was solid rather than spectacular, with 74 runs coming in the first two hours for the loss of only Clarke's wicket for 55. Read and Hussain carried on untroubled until lunch, with Hussain happy to play second fiddle. Read was the main aggressor, playing positively from the start, hitting six boundaries and taking the attack to the bowlers.
However, just like yesterday, England suffered a sever bout of the post-lunch blues as the bowlers turned up the heat and the lower-order melted. Read's dismissal started the slide when he was caught by Rajin Saleh at short-leg off Enamul Haque jnr for a bright 37 (313 for 6). One over later and Hussain followed, snicking Mortaza to Khaled Mashud, the wicketkeeper, who took a good catch low to his right for 76 (313 for 7). That left the tail horribly exposed, and it offered precious little resistance as Mortaza cashed in on some cheap wickets. The last three batsmen fell for a miserly 13 runs to complete a wretched hour for England.
On the flat Chittagong pitch, the new ball was vital, and Richard Johnson and Matthew Hoggard both made early breakthroughs. Johnson continued his healthy knack of taking early wickets when he picked up Javed Omar in his second over. Trying to turn a straight ball through midwicket, Omar instead got a leading edge straight to Michael Vaughan at mid-off (6 for 1). Hoggard then tempted Habibul Bashar into a loose drive with a classic awayswinger which he edged head-high to Mark Butcher at gully (44 for 2).
Hannan Sarkar, meanwhile, took the fight to the bowlers and was keen to get forward and drive anything full. For a while, Bangladesh's scoring rate was more sprightly than it had been all series as Sarkar mixed the odd boundary with quick singles on both sides of the wicket. Hoggard, in particular, banged in the short balls to unsettle the batsmen, but it was the improving Clarke who turned the tide England's way.
Clarke replaced Johnson ahead of Martin Saggers, the debutant, and he was rewarded for another tight spell with two wickets in as many balls. His first victim was the big one of Sarkar for 28, with a bit of help from Asoka de Silva, who did his already dwindling popularity in these parts no favours. Sarkar went right back to a full delivery and was hit on the back pad. The ball was arguably missing leg stump, but de Silva quickly made up his mind and sent Sarkar on his way (61 for 3).
Mashrafe Mortaza celebrates the wicket of Nasser Hussain during England's alarming collapse
© Getty Images
And with the first ball of his next over, Clarke dismissed Alok Kapali for a golden duck. Kapali tentatively defended a short ball which kicked up and hit the handle of the bat for Butcher to take his second catch at gully (63 for 4). Clarke was on a hat-trick and Bangladesh were threatening to take a leaf out of England's well-read book on The Art of Collapsing.
But no-one can do it quite like they can, as Rajin Saleh and Mushfiqur Rahman defiantly held out for the last 15 overs. But only just. After Rahman creamed a square-drive for four off Saggers and spanked a Clarke slower-ball to the fence, he was dropped on 14 by Marcus Trescothick at first slip off Hoggard. It was hard chance low to Trescothick's left, but not only did he spill it, he also injured his thumb and had to leave the field immediately to have an X-ray.
Ashley Giles wasn't brought on until the 36th over when the light was fading fast, but he bowled as well as could be expected given his current lack of confidence and was starting to find a rhythm just as the umpires offered the light to the batsmen with four overs of a mixed day for England remaining.