Web Desk (August 28, 2017): Shakib Al Hasan lit up his 50th Test with all-round brilliance to help Bangladesh claim a handy first-innings lead over a listless Australia in the second Test on Monday.
Shakib Al Hasan marked the first day of his 50th Test match by scoring a half-century; on the second day, he continued the party with a five-wicket haul. There is every reason to think that by the end of this match, he might be celebrating Bangladesh’s first ever Test win over Australia. But that is getting ahead of proceedings. For the time being, Bangladesh will be content with the strong position in which they find themselves at stumps on day two.
It was a day that began brilliantly for Bangladesh. Australia walked out on 18 for 3, and within three overs they had stumbled to 33 for 4 when Steven Smith danced down the pitch, tried to flick Mehidy Hasan through the leg side and was bowled. Smith is easily Australia’s best player of spin – three centuries in four Tests in India earlier this year attest to that. To lose him in these conditions was to hand Bangladesh complete control.
Resuming on a precarious 18-3, the tourists soon lost captain Steve Smith, their best batsman. Off-spinner Mehidy Hasan, who took 12 wickets at the same venue to inspire Bangladesh’s first Test win over England last year, struck in his second over, sneaking one through the gate to dismiss Smith for eight.
Matt Renshaw and Peter Handscomb were subjected to a trial by spin with Mehidy (3-62) and Shakib hunting in tandem but the duo added 69 runs for the fifth wicket to halt the slide.
With the partnership blooming, however, Taijul trapped Handscomb lbw for 33 with a ball that kept slightly low, as it often did on a track offering variable bounce and prodigious turn.
Opener Renshaw soon joined him in the pavilion for 45, edging Shakib to slip. Matthew Wade fell lbw for five to Mehidy and Shakib got Glenn Maxwell stumped for 23.
Ashton Agar made 41 and Pat Cummins contributed 25, adding 49 runs for the ninth wicket in a defiant stand to lend a touch of respectability to the Australian total.
Maxwell made a confident 23 before he was lured out of his crease by Shakib, who turned the ball past the outside edge and Mushfiqur Rahim completed the stumping. Shakib might have had Agar stumped as well, but some exaggerated bounce off the pitch tricked Mushfiqur as it did the batsman. Another opportunity went begging when Cummins skied one towards cover off Shakib on 11 and Shafiul Islam dropped a straightforward chance.
Cummins and Agar took those reprieves and used them to bat together for 25.2 overs, displaying impressive patience and technique that some of their top-order colleagues might learn from. For a while, it even looked like they might lift Australia close to Bangladesh’s total of 260. But on 25 from 89 balls, Cummins tried to drive Shakib through the off side and was bowled; Agar finished unbeaten on 41 off 97 when Josh Hazlewood was taken at short leg off Shakib for 5.
Australia were not the only ones struggling: umpire Aleem Dar had two poor decisions overturned on review, first when he gave Renshaw lbw off a Mehidy delivery that would have sailed well over the top of the stumps, and then when he adjudged Cummins caught behind down leg off Shafiul Islam, when all the ball had touched was thigh pad. Both times, Dar self-admonished with face-palms. Australia, all out for 217, might have collectively done the same.