August 30, 2001

Bangladesh in trouble as Kaneria, Anwar and Taufeeq excel

Right arm leg spinner Danish Kaneria, debutant Taufiq Umer and veteran Saeed Anwar shared limelight on the opening day as Bangladesh found out the harsh realities of top level cricket in the Asian Test Championship opener at the Multan Cricket Stadium Wednesday.

Watched by around 12,000 spectators, the 20-year-old Danish, playing his third Test, captured six for 42 - his Test best figures - to help Pakistan spin out Bangladesh for a paltry 134 some 40 minutes before tea.

Later, 20-year-old left-handed opener Taufiq Umer carried on his fine form by celebrating his Test debut with a strokeful and attractive unbeaten 77 as Pakistan finished the opening day's play at a healthy 219 for two from 46 overs, a lead of 85 with eight wickets in hand.

Veteran Saeed Anwar also had reasons to smile on a hot and humid day when he became the sixth Pakistan batsman to complete 4,000 Test runs while reaching 49 on way to a scoring a fluent almost run-a-ball 101. It was his 11th century and first in 11 innings from seven Tests. His last was against Sri Lanka in Galle last year.

Saeed, the 33-year-old playing his 55th Test, smashed 17 blistering boundaries and a six before falling to 16-year-old Mohammad Sharif. Trying once too often to play his elegant wristy on-drive, the enigmatic former captain, was caught at square leg by Hasibul Hossain.

Faisal Iqbal failed to take advantage of heaven sent opportunity of getting some runs under his belt. The 19-year-old was bowled by Sharif to a delivery that kept low and crashed onto the stumps after taking the inside edge of the bat.

Danish bowled exceptionally well and pushed the ball in the air while picking up his wickets in just 13 overs. He was devastating, mean and bowled with purpose.

The leg spinner got the ideal start which a wrist spinner wants to apply the pressure and pick the line as early as possible. An overpitched delivery was belted by opener Mehrab Hossain but Faisal Iqbal picked up an extraordinary reflex action catch at silly point. Catches like this are not seen too often and only shows the brilliant reflexes Faisal has.

From then on, there was no stopping Danish as he mixed up his deliveries intelligently and spun the ball from the right areas.

Danish, who also had a successful tour of Sri Lanka with Pakistan 'A' in May-June, has the spark of becoming a successful wicket-taking legspinner. He, however, received support from over-ambitious and illplanned Bangladesh batsmen who looked in a hurry and decided to throw their wickets rather than making full use of batting first after winning the toss by keeping themselves cool and composed.

Their batting display was a reflection of the bad habits they have caught by playing 42 one-dayers against three Tests. But surely when they will play more longer duration of games, they will also learn the art of occupying the crease and punishing the loose balls.

Off-spinner Shoaib Malik, who also earned a Test cap, picked up two cheap wickets while Waqar Younis who made the early breaks accounted for two. Wasim Akram remained wicketless in his 10 overs but he should consider himself unlucky when Saeed dropped a waist-high catch in the first slip. The former captain, who was as mean as ever, could have been a different bowler had Saeed not showed greasy palms.

Taufiq Umer, who stroked a masterly 113 against the same side in the three-dayer, matched Saeed Anwar with stroke by stroke.

The trademark of Taufiq's innings was his ability to stroke boundaries in front of the wickets. Bulk of his 11 boundaries were either straight or through the covers as he fully cashed in on the half volleys and over-pitched stuff hurled by the tourists.

Taufiq was as confident against pacers as against the slow bowlers when he worked them around to maintain the flow or runs. His also displayed his hunger for big innings when he became cautious after reaching his half century from 55 balls with nine boundaries. At stumps, he had faced 123 deliveries and looks well poised to become the eighth Pakistani to score a century on debut.