Pakistan batsmen take command at Dhaka

Swashbuckling knocks from Abdur Razzaq and Rashid Latif put Pakistan in a commanding position, and Bangladesh effectively out of the game, on the second day of the Coca Cola Test series at Dhaka on Thursday. Resuming the game on their overnight total of 126/3, Pakistan batted patiently in the opening session and aggressively for the rest of day. At the close, the visitors had amassed 436/6, with centurion Razzaq and Inzamam-ul-Haq at the crease.

The morning started inauspiciously for Bangladesh and Manjurul Islam, the left-arm seamer, when Habibul Bashar floored a simple chance at third slip off a mistimed Yousuf Youhana slash outside the off-stump. Youhana celebrated his luck by cutting the bowler to the deep point fence for four off the fifth ball.

Left-arm spinner Enamul Haque got rid of night-watchman Saqlain Mushtaq, trapping him lbw for nine with the score on 162. Youhana continued to wax eloquent at the other end, treating each delivery on its merit and refusing to be drawn into unnecessarily risky shots. Fahim Muntasir and Enamul Haque got some early help from the pitch; their tight bowling, combined with a perky performance in the field, made for a not unsatisfactory morning session for Bangladesh.

Youhana, who did not look like getting out through any indiscretion of his own, was the victim of an unfortunate run out on the way to his ninth Test ton. As he dashed down the pitch for a single, he was sent back just a tad too late by Razzaq; Mohammed Sharif, the bowler, clipped the bails off as Youhana was scurrying back to reach his own crease. The television replay sealed Youhana's dismissal for 72, 28 runs short of what would have been a fine century.

Inzamam, suffering from a severe cold, was pushed down the order, but Pakistan hardly noticed his absence as Rashid Latif took his place. The 32-year-old wicket-keeper, after some quiet moments initially, started to punish erratic bowling, lashing it to all parts of the field. Latif got his fifty off 67 balls, a knock studded with eight fours and a six.

Inspired by his partner, Razzaq also exploded into action and struck two sixes. Both Enamul and Fahim were at the receiving end of belligerent strokeplay. Pakistan went in to tea at 346 for the loss of five wickets, with Razzaq on 77 and Latif 66. The last nine overs before tea had conceded 77 runs, a torrent even by one-day international standards.

Without Mashrafe, the home side's most successful strike bowler, the Bangladesh attack turned out to be toothless. None of the bowlers could make any impact on Pakistan until, after 116 overs, Bangladesh opted for the second new ball; soon after, they got the breakthrough at 396, after a 175-run stand for the sixth wicket.

Mohammed Sharif, the least erratic bowler for Bangladesh on the day, finally removed Latif six short of his maiden Test hundred. He was beaten by a slower ball, skying it to Al-Sahariar at mid-on.

Razzaq reached his third Test hundred by gently pushing Manjural Islam to short cover; his century featured 10 fours and two sixes. The burly Inzamam joined in with an entertaining cameo, and the fantastic reception from the crowd confirmed his popularity in Bangladesh.

At stumps Pakistan were 436/6, with Razzaq on 114 and Inzamam on 22. Bangladesh face a deficit of 276 runs already, and they will have to fight long and valiantly to save this match, let alone win it.