Bangladesh take match into third day
Ian Bell struck his maiden Test century for England, but Bangladesh put up some stern resistance to take the match into the third day at Chester-le-Street. Defeat still looms large for Bangladesh - they require 47 to make England bat again - but in posting more than 200 for the first time this series they have at least salvaged some pride. Their fight was led by Javed Omar, Aftab Ahmed and the captain Habibul Bashar, who finally came good this tour with 63. But after Bell and Graham Thorpe clattered an unbeaten stand of 187, Bashar's half-century proved little more than cold comfort.
The morning belonged to Bell, who carried on where he left off last night from the offset. He was in glorious touch, with some exquisitely timed strokes including a caressed flick through midwicket to bring up his maiden hundred in just 132 balls. And he brought up 100 runs in one session with a rare six over midwicket. He had been trying for the six for some time, after a challenge posed by his teammates; which proved a much stiffer test than anything Bangladesh's bowlers could offer. They served up a rich diet of short stuff and their heads soon went down as Bell's hitting went on the up. And, once past his century, he opened up further and displayed a vast array of shots.
He wasted no time playing himself in, pulling a scrumptuous four in the first over of the morning. He added a beautifully timed cover driven four off the backfoot, and a flick off the toes brought up England's 300. Eleven fours were posted in the first hour, as Bell and Thorpe quickly hit their straps on a slow pitch, which allowed Vaughan to declare at lunch on 447 for 3.
But Bangladesh put up a fight in the afternoon session, the damage limitation exercise spearheaded by Omar, who struck 71, his highest score against England. They were much braver against a fearsome England attack than they have been at any point this series, and their shot selection was more sensible, too.
As in the first innings, Omar demonstrated some confident strokeplay as he made the most of a slowing pitch. His opening partner, Nafees Iqbal, joined him in a stand of 50 and Iqbal would have counted himself unlucky to be given out caught behind off Andrew Flintoff just as he was getting set, as the ball appeared to bounce before it reached Geraint Jones. But there was no doubt about Flintoff's second wicket: Rajin Saleh fended a tame catch to Andrew Strauss at second slip for 7.
At 75 for 2, Bangladesh were beginning to create some breathing space for themselves, and Mohammad Ashraful started to follow Omar's example. But with tea just around the corner, he gave his wicket away needlessly, launching Gareth Batty only as far as long-on. Batty did well from the moment he finally got the ball in his hand for his first bowl this series, immediately finding turn. Batty managed to undo some of Bangladesh's good work, but Bashar - who had dropped himself down the order - managed to survive a tricky short spell before tea.
Bashar was far more comfortable at No 5 than No 3 (where he has hit 25 runs in three knocks), pulling and cutting boundary after boundary. In one Simon Jones over, he smote four fours, punishing anything short. His innings was eventually ended by Flintoff, who trapped him lbw, but not before he had posted Bangladesh's highest partnership of the series - 70 - with Khaled Mashud. England's ambitions to kill the game off within two days were dealt a further blow when Batty dropped a sitter at short extra cover, when Mashud was on 5. But no matter, Hoggard trapped him plumb with one which nipped back after he made a decent 25.
Just as it seemed inevitable that Bangladesh would be taking the match into the third day, Hoggard removed Mohammad Rafique in what would have been the last over. With just three wickets left to take, Vaughan successfully appealed for the available extra half hour. And Hoggard struck again, removing Anwar Hossain for a duck, as Thorpe snatched a quality catch at forward short-leg, his lightning reactions belying his 35 years.
But Bangladesh clung on for the rest of the day and edged past their previous highest total against England of 255 at Dhaka in 2003-04, Ahmed in particular entertaining with a career-best 67 not out, which included three fours in one Flintoff over. When the inevitable end comes, the Tigers will be able to look back on a second innings in which they fought hard and clawed back some pride.
How they were out
Nafees Iqbal c GO Jones b Flintoff 15 (50 for 1)
Gloved ball through - but it didn't carry
Rajin Saleh c Strauss b Flintoff 7 (75 for 2)
Fended short ball to second slip
Mohammad Ashraful c Hoggard b Batty 12 (101 for 3)
Attempted expansive drive but holed out at long-on
Javed Omar 71 c G Jones b Harmison 71 (125 for 4)
Habibul Bashar lbw Flintoff 63 (195 for 5)
Trapped plumb by straight one
Khaled Mashud lbw Hoggard 25 (235 for 6)
Trapped by one which nipped back
Mohammad Rafique b Hoggard 2 (245 for 7)
Beaten through the gate and off-stump clipped
Anwar Hossain c Thorpe b Hoggard 0 (249 for 8)
Thumped short ball to forward short leg
Jenny Thompson is assistant editor of Cricinfo