Forced to follow on after being dismissed for 170 in their first innings, Bangladesh have shown resilient defence in their second innings of the first Test against South Africa at Buffalo Park in East London.
The hosts took just 50 minutes to finish off the Bangladesh first innings. Makhaya Ntini, the pick of the bowlers, wrapped it up with 5/19 in 15 overs. He would have ended with six wickets, and his best Test figures, but for a dropped catch by Graeme Smith in the slips.
From the moment the Bangladesh second innings started one sensed a completely different attitude. A defiant opening stand, against some hostile bowling from Ntini and David Terbrugge, saw Bangladesh reach 22 before Javed Omar played his first loose shot, spooning a slow wide ball from Mornantau Hayward to Herschelle Gibbs at backward point.
Habibul Bashar and Al Sahariar attacked the bowling at every opportunity, especially the many given by Hayward, who had trouble with both line and length, and soon posted a 56-run partnership. Bashar's attacking innings came to an end on 21 when he mistimed a pull off Hayward to be caught on the long-leg boundary.
Al Sahariar, showing some fine on-side shots, became the first Bangladesh player to score a Test 50 against South Africa. His half century came off 71 balls and included eight excellent boundaries. But with the return of Ntini the pressure was reapplied. First he had Sanwar Hossain dropped, again by Smith in the slips, and he then bowled Al Sahariar, off the stomach, for 71 excellent runs, which included 11 boundaries to all parts of the ground.
Sanwar Hossain also played his shots, piercing the field on eight occasions to take him to 49 when he was adjudged leg before. Replays suggest that it was a close call, and that the umpire missed Terbrugge overstepping. When Tushar Imran was caught at silly mid-off off Claude Henderson for eight Bangladesh were 176/5 and in danger of losing the Test in three days.
Khaled Mashud and Alok Kapali had other ideas. Applying themselves fully in the final hour they stayed focussed no matter what the South Africans dished up. At stumps Khaled Mashud had scored 32 from 143 balls and Alok Kapali nine from 62. A stern effort from the two players and a feather in the cap of the Bangladesh top order, who showed they are learning from experience.
South Africa should still win it at a canter, but questions should be asked of their bowlers. Apart from Ntini, the pick in this innings as well, they were far too inconsistent.