Prior to this series-decider at Chittagong, Mushfiqur Rahim spoke about continuing the attacking approach which was evident during his team’s historic triumph at Dhaka last week. It was that aggressive mindset which lifted the Tigers after being reduced to 10 for 3 within first four overs of the Test match.
However, for the most part of the Day One of Chittagong Test, this positive vibe was missing from the batting performance of the hosts. There was indecisiveness in their batting approach which led to the tentativeness in the feet movement and Nathan Lyon exploited that fragility superbly.
Eventually, towards the latter half of the day, Sabbir Rahman’s attacking batsmanship came as a breath of a fresh air and saved the day for the hosts.
At the start of the day, it was a crucial toss to win for Mushfiqur — probably the most important toss ever in his captaincy career so far. Keeping in mind that his spinners had taken 19 out of 20 Australian wickets in the first Test, the Bangladesh team management were desperate to bowl at the visitors in the fourth innings. So, the home skipper had no hesitation to bat first after winning the toss.
What they needed at that point of time – was a steady beginning. To strengthen their batting further, Bangladesh dropped pacer Shafiul Islam and included Mominul Haque as the eighth specialist batsman in the eleven.
However, unfortunately, they failed to bag the toss advantage.
Compared to Shere Bangla track in the first Test, the wicket at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium wicket had offered a very little turn, far less bounce and less pace on Day One. As predicted earlier, Australia decided to go with three specialist spinners in this crunch match and Steven Smith gave the new ball to Lyon, probably keeping in mind the fact that top five of Bangladesh’s batting line-up were left-handers.
The off-spinner got rid of four of them in the same fashion – Leg Before Wicket (LBW). He became the first bowler to dismiss the first-four batsmen LBW in a Test innings.
“The pitch was pretty good, to be fair, there’s not much spin there at all. I think I bowled four straight ones early and all hit the pads,” in his post day press conference, Lyon admitted that it was the lack of turn in the wicket which helped him to rattle the Bangladesh top-order.
At the start of the innings, for some reason, both the openers, Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar seemed to be extra cautious, which is not exactly their natural game. The defensive mindset took them into a shell which allowed Lyon to settle into his rhythm early in the game.
The openers played out four maiden overs within the first half an hour. This lack of improvisation from the Bangladesh openers helped the off-spinner to keep on bowling at the corridor of uncertainty and soon the host’s batsmen fell into the trap.
Tamim was the first casualty of the day. On his front foot, the southpaw was aiming to play the delivery on the onside. But unfortunately, his bat got stuck in his pad and he was dead in front.
Next, it was the turn of out of form Imrul Kayes to miss a straighter one while sweeping. Following the low scores in recent matches, he looked under pressure and was trying to sweep his way out of trouble.
The wicket of Soumya Sarkar, right before the Lunch break was another example of Bangladesh’s tentativeness. After a poor outing at Mirpur, he seemed to be settling in during his innings of 33. He was playing for the Lunch and while trying to play a defensive shot, a quicker one from Lyon skidded on so much that it hits the back pad in line with all three stumps. Sarkar was playing for the turn, but there was none.
Finally, the comeback man Mominul was looking in good touch during the course of his 67-ball 31. Amongst the top four, today he seemed to me the most confident about his feet movements. Though he preferred to play on the backfoot for the most part of his innings, but the southpaw knew what he was doing. But in the post-lunch session, another flat and straight delivery from Lyon ended his promising knock.
It was also quite surprising to see someone like Shakib Al Hasan to getting out caught behind against the left-arm spin of Ashton Agar, trying to manufacture a half-hatred cover drive while hanging on his backfoot. He was also playing the waiting game, keeping aside his natural flair, which saw him scoring a match changing 84 at Mirpur last week on a wicket which had more wear and tear than this one.
Thanks to their unusual conservative approach, Bangladesh at one point of time, were tottering at 117 for 5. Finally, Sabbir along with Mushfiqur came out and played some attacked shots which took the momentum away from the Aussies. Thanks to their 105-run partnership for the sixth wicket, at Stumps 253 for 6 is looking far more respectable for the hosts.