The incredible opening stand between Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes broke past the 300-run mark, setting newer records along the way, and making short work of what had seemed like a match-winning lead 24 hours ago
The incredible opening stand between Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes passed the 300-run mark, setting more records while making short work of what had seemed like a match-winning lead for Pakistan a little over 24 hours ago and attained, undeniably, one of the top spots in Bangladesh cricket legend.
Kayes, who moved shoulder to shoulder with Tamim during the stand, fell for 150, but there was no stopping Tamim. He had kick-started Bangladesh's resurgence in the Test and went on with unwavering resolve to register the highest Test score - 206 - by a Bangladesh batsman.
As Tamim walked back after a rare mistake in the 99th over, Mohammad Hafeez, the successful bowler, was the first one to congratulate him on an enthralling innings that was both serene and audacious. And it came at a time of grief in the family. Kayes' innings was no less vital.
The draw in Khulna was in line with improvements Bangladesh have shown across formats after a difficult 2014. The transformation happened somewhere along the home series win against Zimbabwe last October, continued through the World Cup down under and if there were still doubts after the ODI and Twenty20 wins against Pakistan, the first Test should quell them.
It was the first time in nine Tests that Pakistan were not able to force a win against Bangladesh. Irrespective of the conditions, that stat alone was a huge boost for Bangladesh cricket. Pakistan, a few rungs above the home side in Test rankings, are still favourites ahead of the Dhaka Test, but will be under severe pressure.
The seeds of doubt for Pakistan were solely sown by the Tamim-Kayes stand. The striking feature of the batsmanship was the ability to change gears from time to time. A number of remarkable innings have been played by Bangladesh batsmen in the past, but not many have seen batsmen marrying personal goals with team requirement as seamlessly as Tamim and Kayes did in this Test.
Tamim had said before the start of play on the final day that it was crucial for Bangladesh to keep their concentration through the first session as they were still behind in the Test, and both he and Kayes took time to set themselves up again. Only six runs were scored in the first five overs, with Kayes playing out three maidens on the trot from Junaid Khan, one more than what they had played in the 61 overs yesterday.
The pitch had refused to change much though it was the fifth day but Junaid was reversing the ball both ways in that initial spell. Kayes was saved by the inside edge first ball of the morning as one swung in late. Then Tamim was floored by a vicious inswinger that struck him flush on the boot, the batsman falling forward on his elbows after losing balance. That delivery would have grazed the leg stump, too. If there was any hangover from yesterday, it was duly shaken off.
Two balls later, Tamim watchfully clipped a similar delivery to fine leg before Kayes, in the same over, leaned into a fuller delivery to hit the first boundary of the day, which drew the pair level with Colin Cowdrey and Geoff Puller's 55-year-old record of the highest opening stand in second innings of a Test. In the next over, Tamim stepped out of the crease and crisply drove Yasir Shah through covers to put Bangladesh in the lead.
And just like that, they were back in cruise mode again. Bangladesh reached 300 in the 69th over, Tamim touched 150 in the 71st and Kayes joined him three overs later. While Tamim went on to pass his previous best of 151, Kayes, looking to push the scoring, holed out at long-off.
Unaffected by the dismissal, Tamim carried on in a controlled manner, his calmness gnawing on the last crumb of hope Pakistan might have harboured. Mominul Haque came and went, missing a fuller delivery to give Junaid his first wicket of the match, but the score kept moving along.
Then, as if waking up from an afternoon slumber, Tamim surprised Yasir Shah to move from 182 to 194 in two balls. In the next over, after being beaten on the charge, he smashed Junaid down the ground for his seventh six to move past Mushfiqur Rahim's 200.
At the time of Tamim's dismissal, Bangladesh's lead had swelled to 103 runs. Shakib Al Hasan led the grind of Pakistan bowlers and took the score past 413, Bangladesh's previous highest second-innings total to eventual 555 for 6, their best against Pakistan. It was also the first time Pakistan had leaked more than 500 in the second innings.