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Match reports

Pakistan v Bangladesh

Utpal Shuvro

At Peshawar, August 27, 28, 29, 30, 2003. Pakistan won by nine wickets. Toss: Bangladesh.
For the second Test running, Bangladesh dominated long periods, and even whole days, but left empty-handed. For much of the opening three days, they were on top. They even took a first-innings lead, for the first time in Tests. And, although humbled in the end, it took two devastating spells from a world-class fast bowler to beat them.
Faced with a last chance to prove himself before returning to county cricket, Shoaib Akhtar responded in style. In the first innings, when Bangladesh threatened to reach an imposing total, he skittled the lower order. In the second, with Pakistan contemplating a tricky fourth-innings chase, he sent Bangladesh careering towards 96 all out.
Throughout the match, conditions were extreme. The temperature hovered around 40°C and the humidity soared above 75%. Umpire Russell Tiffin suffered heat exhaustion on the second afternoon and was temporarily replaced by the TV umpire, Asad Rauf, who had never stood in a Test before. Pakistani off-spinner Shoaib Malik also suffered cramp while fielding on the first day. He returned for the second, only to injure his groin. Despite the conditions, spectators came in good numbers and were always in festive mood.
Bangladesh won the toss and made first use of a wicket that looked ideal for batsmen. So it proved. The Bangladeshis threatened to dwarf their best-ever total of 400, made in their inaugural Test, but eventually had to settle for 361. Javed Omar and Habibul Bashar forged a second-wicket partnership of 167 - a national record. Habibul fell three short of becoming the first Bangladeshi to make back-to-back centuries, but another hundred partnership followed his dismissal. Just after lunch on the second day, Bangladesh were 310 for two - the sort of score more often associated with Australia.
Then lightning struck, in the form of Shoaib. Although he had come from glorious August sunshine in England, these conditions were something else, and he clearly struggled to cope with the heat, bowling 11 overs on the first day and two three-over spells on the second morning. Wicketless, he looked anything but threatening. That all changed after lunch.
Following the break, Shoaib found rhythm, extreme pace and reverse swing. He started the demolition job by bowling Javed Omar, whose 119 lasted eight hours 13 minutes, with a full-length thunderbolt. Sixteen balls later, Shoaib had taken five wickets for five runs. Bangladesh, from a commanding 310 for two, were reduced to 320 for eight, and eventually bowled out for 361. Shoaib finished off the innings, and returned to the cool of the dressing-room with figures of six for 50.
Still, it was enough to give Bangladesh a 66-run lead, thanks to a remarkable show of stamina and persistence by their left-arm spinner, Mohammad Rafiq. On the third day, he sent down all but one of the 33 overs Bangladesh bowled from the Pavilion End. His reward for sustained accuracy and a wonderful arm ball was a second fivewicket haul, in only his fifth Test. More spectacularly, Alok Kapali docked the tail by taking Bangladesh's first hat-trick (spread across two overs), just after tea on the third day.
Bangladesh started their second innings hoping to set Pakistan a stiff target. They failed. Shoaib had removed both openers by the fifth over, and there was no respite on the fourth day. Another two victims gave Shoaib his first ten-wicket haul in Tests. When the eighth batsman fell, with the score 75, Bangladesh were flirting with their lowest Test total of 87. Mashrafe bin Mortaza hit Umar Gul for three consecutive fours to avert that danger but Bangladesh still scraped just 96. A target of 163 was never going to test Pakistan, and Mohammad Hafeez made it look easy, with a maiden Test century.
Man of the Match: Shoaib Akhtar.