CHITTAGONG: Liton Das hit his maiden century as Bangladesh recovered from a shaky start to reach 253-4 against Pakistan on the opening day of the first Test on Friday.
He and Mushfiqur Rahim combined for an undefeated 204-run partnership after Bangladesh were reduced to 49-4 in the first session.
They kept the Pakistan bowlers at bay from the first half of the morning session through the entire second and third sessions.
At stumps owing to bad light, Liton was on 113 and Mushfiqur on 82.
“The guys showed a great deal of character and skills after we were 40-odd for four today, Bangladesh batting coach Ashwell Prince said.
“I was really impressed by how calm and composed Liton was. The most nervous everyone got was when Liton started getting cramps. We were hoping that his body can hang in their till the end of the day. He is going to recover tonight, and hopefully he can continue tomorrow.”
The first hour belonged to the Pakistan fast bowlers, who utilised the early moisture on the pitch.
Opener Saif Hasan hit fast bowler Hasan Ali for two boundaries in the second over to hint at a good start for Bangladesh.
Opening partner Shadman Islam struggled against Shaheen Shah Afridi, who moved the ball well, but Saif grew with confidence, driving the left-arm pacer through mid-off for four.
Shaheen broke through with the next delivery when Saif fended a short delivery to short leg to Abid Ali for 14.
Shadman also fell for 14, as Hasan had him leg before after leaking runs in his opening spell.
Bangladesh skipper Mominul Haque fell soon afterwards, scoring just six as off-spinner Sajid Khan spun one sharply to take an edge that was gladly accepted by wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan.
The umpire initially declared Mominul not out but the decision was overruled on review.
Najmul Hossain Shanto got off the mark with a four but he too soon perished for 14, cutting a Faheem Ashraf delivery straight to Sajid at point.
Liton and Mushfiqur were duly cautious at the start and survived some tricky moments before they dominated.
They went unscathed in the whole middle session during which they raised their half-centuries and Liton hit Sajid for the lone six of the day.
Liton, who was dropped from the Twenty20 squad following a poor T20 World Cup, chopped left-arm spinner Nauman Ali’s short delivery past backward point to the boundary to bring up his half-century off 95 balls.
“I didn’t ask anything of him [Liton] during the T20 series,” batting coach Prince said. “We worked on one or two little technical things. It was more about changing his stance, and basically his alignment to get him lined up better.”
With the pitch offering nothing for the bowlers, the Pakistan pacers came up with a short balls plan which almost worked as Liton, on 67, mistimed one off Shaheen but Sajid put down the catch at midwicket.
Liton then became more watchful.
Mushfiqur, meanwhile, raised his 24th half-century with consecutive boundaries against Hasan off 108 balls. He survived because of a no-ball by Nauman after sweeping straight to point.
Playing with caution, Liton reached his first Test century off 199 balls after pushing Nauman to mid-off for a tricky single. He had to dive to complete the run after pushing Sajid at midoff and a direct hit could have cost him his wicket.
Mushfiqur hugged Liton as he stood back to kiss his helmet and raise his bat responding to applaud from the gallery and the dressing room.
Pakistan took the new ball as soon as it was available without reward for another five overs.
“We had a good first session by taking early wickets. We should appreciate the way Liton Das and Mushfiqur Rahim batted. They played really well,” Hasan said.
“It’s a slow pitch and we need to bowl in good areas to get break-through. At this moment, Bangladesh are in good position but our batters are in a good form and they have the ability to score better on this track.”
Pakistan handed batsman Abdullah Shafique a Test debut and Yasir Ali was making his Test bow for Bangladesh in the two-match series.
BANGLADESH (1st Innings):
Shadman Islam lbw b Hasan 14
Saif Hassan c Abid b Shaheen 14
Najmul Hossain c Sajid b Faheem 14
Mominul Haque c Rizwan b Sajid 6
Mushfiqur Rahim not out 82
Liton Das not out 113
EXTRAS (LB-8, W-1, NB-1) 10
TOTAL (for four wickets; 85 overs) 253
TO BAT: Yasir Ali, Mehidy Hasan, Taijul Islam, Abu Jayed, Ebadot Hossain.
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-19 (Saif), 2-33 (Shadman), 3-47 (Mominul), 4-49 (Najmul).
BOWLING (to-date): Shaheen 18-4-50-1, Hasan 13-3-38-1, Faheem 10-2-38-1 (1w), Sajid 22-3-68-1, Nauman 22-5-51-0 (1nb).
PAKISTAN: Abdullah Shafique, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Fawad Alam, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Rizwan, Nauman Ali, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sajid Ali.
UMPIRES: Michael Gough (England) and Sharfuddoula (Bangladesh).
TV UMPIRE: Gazi Sohel (Bangladesh).
MATCH REFEREE: Neeyamur Rashid (Bangladesh).
Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2021