Second Test

Pakistan in Bangladesh, 2011-12

Utpal Shuvro

At Mirpur, December 17-21, 2011. Pakistan won by seven wickets. Toss: Pakistan.

When Pakistan chased down a modest target of 103 from 40 overs on the final afternoon, their main opponent was not the Bangladeshi bowlers but the light-meter: it was getting dark fast and, not long before Misbah-ul-Haq lofted Elias Sunny for the six that clinched Pakistan's sixth victory in ten Tests, the umpires had consulted about the conditions.

Fog in the morning and fading light later on were a feature throughout: even turning the floodlights on could not ensure 90 overs were bowled on any of the first four days. The interruptions had begun on the first, when fog delayed the start by 75 minutes. When play did begin, in overcast conditions, it was no surprise that Misbah again decided to bowl: Aizaz Cheema struck in his first over, and took three wickets in his opening spell.

It looked like the same old story when Bangladesh were floundering at 43 for four, but for once the rest did not roll over. Shakib Al Hasan kicked off what became a memorable match for him with a superb 144, and put on 180 - a Bangladesh fifth-wicket record in Tests, and their highest for any wicket against Pakistan - with Shahriar Nafees, who was unlucky to miss a century of his own when he gloved a bouncer from Umar Gul.

Shakib was in sight of Bangladesh's highest Test score - Mohammad Ashraful's 158 not out against India at Chittagong in 2004-05 - when trouble arrived. Sent back by Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib failed to beat Taufeeq Umar's direct hit from mid-on. Mushfiqur followed next ball, gloving an intended flick to leg, and the tail was swept away. A rare position of strength for Bangladesh - 305 for five - had turned into 338 all out.

Pakistan's reply was a wilful grind. Even though the problems with the light meant this was in effect turning into a four-day match, the batsmen were content just to spend time at the crease. Nazmul Hossain, playing his second Test seven years after his first, had Mohammad Hafeez caught behind from his opening delivery. In fact, it was two in two: Nazmul had taken a wicket (Harbhajan Singh) with his final ball of his debut in December 2004.

Taufeeq Umar settled in for six hours for 130, his seventh Test century, but was the chief beneficiary of more woeful fielding, missed on 56, 66 and 118. Four other catches went down, and Pakistan extended their lead to 132.

Shakib finished with six for 82, becoming the 21st man - the first from Bangladesh - to score a century and take a five-for in the same Test. But he was still condemned to finish on the losing side. Only Jimmy Sinclair, for South Africa against England in 1898-99, and Vinoo Mankad, for India against England in 1952, had suffered the same fate.

Shakib's only failure of the match came in the second innings, when Nasir Hossain and Mushfiqur Rahim put on 117 to raise hopes of a draw, especially with the light closing in. But Pakistan's spinners winkled out the last five wickets for 22 runs, leaving their batsmen just enough time.

Man of the Match: Shakib Al Hasan. Man of the Series: Younis Khan.

Close of play: First day, Bangladesh 234-5 (Shakib Al Hasan 108, Mushfiqur Rahim 5); Second day, Pakistan 87-1 (Taufeeq Umar 44, Azhar Ali 26); Third day, Pakistan 292-3 (Younis Khan 48, Misbah-ul-Haq 26); Fourth day, Bangladesh 114-5 (Nasir Hossain 30, Mushfiqur Rahim 7).

© John Wisden & Co.
 
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