August 27, 2001

Bangladesh show fighting qualities

Bangladesh showed some fighting qualities as they grind their way to a draw in the three-day game against the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) XI at the UBL Sports Complex here Sunday.

Resuming at 30 for one and trailing the home team by 73 runs, the tourists were 239 for nine when the match was called off with seven mandatory overs still to be bowled.

The result was nothing but a highly respectable one for the tourists who arrived here for the Asian Test Championship opener against Pakistan short of match practice because of monsoons back home. In addition to this, the visitors put up a match improved performance after a dismal 161 in the first innings.

In the second innings, the frontline batsmen dug their way and batted with patience. Lady Luck also favoured them when the PCB XI spilled at least half a dozen chances. But there is no denying the fact that the way the stroke-makers played, they meant business.

Opener Mehrab Hossain and former captain Akram Khan struck half centuries of contrasting styles to lead the tourists fight back.

Mehrab stroked a confident 72 off 173 balls with six boundaries while Akram canned five blistering boundaries and a huge six off Shoaib Malik while scoring a 135-ball 53. Mehrab, who batted for 223 minutes, reached his half century from 110 balls with five hits to the fence.

Habibul Bashar and Khaled Mashud chipped in with 33 and 27 respectively.

Shoaib Malik, the off-spinner, was the most successful bowler with three for 77 while Azam Husain picked up two for 41 with his slow left-armers.

Yasir Arafat, however, made the ball to reverse swing in the final session of the match and almost brought the heart of the tourists in their mouths. Although he ended up with just two for 36, the figures could have been more respectable had the ball not swung more than it should have.

Yasir's double post-tea strike had raised hopes of an interesting end to the match as Bangladesh, when the 15 mandatory overs started, were then a little over 120 runs ahead. But No 10 batsman Mohammad Sharif frustrated the home team for 21 to end all prospects of a one-day climax. And last but not the least. Where there is Sadiq Mohammad, there is some humour and fun and Sunday was no exception. He adjudged three Bangladesh batsmen leg before, two decisions looked very tight and could have gone in the batsmen's favour.

But the comical thing happened when Sadiq adjudged Sharif leg before off Najaf Shah and immediately reversed his decision. He acted as if he was walking but everyone present in the ground as well as the players, were stunned by Sadiq's sudden change in decision. If Sadiq has been watching television lately, he would have realized that international umpires take time to make decisions.

Although a quick decision proves that the umpire is confident but at the same time, sometimes leaves him look like a fool as happened Sunday evening.

Bangladesh leave for Multan on Monday where they play Pakistan in the first ever Test between the two nations from Wednesday.