Rain delayed the start of second day’s play but when the game commenced, the sun shone brightly over the Manuang Oval Cricket Ground at Bloemfontein. The story was as usual for South Africa. Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis fetched runs easily as ever to notch up their respective Test hundreds and piled on the agony of Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim. Mushfiq maintained his defensive strategy to stop the runs but such a ploy would never stop two classic batsmen, Amla and Fa, from scoring runs. The runs came thick and fast and at one point, Faf declared at 573 for 4.
Imrul Kayes, the batsmen who was supposed to be injured, came out running to bat with Soumya Sarkar. But Kagiso Rabada, Duanne Olivier and Wayne Parnell set jitters in the Bangladesh top order. At 65 for 6, a big shame awaited for them when a someone named Liton Kumar Das rose to the occasion to arrest the collapse for a while and dominated the South African pacers in style.
Enters Liton Kumar Das
Soumya was castled, Mominul was caught behind while a bemused Mushfiq walked for the pavilion after being caught by the acrobatic Temba Bavuma. Mahmudullah Riyad, who showed a great temperament with the bat at Potchefstroom in the first innings, flayed some strokes and gave all a lot of promise, but just when one started to gather hope, Mahmudullah also perished in the most hopeless manner.
Parnell dished out a wide of offstump delivery to Mahmudullah Riyad against which he scripted an unnecessary stroke away from his body. Bangladesh lost their fourth wicket and Parnell followed up with the same delivery to Liton but he was sensible enough to go back and leave it. In the next three balls of over 15, Parnell, changed his length to back of a length and tried to square up Liton, but his initial trigger movement on the backfoot helped him to pivot on the back and defended those deliveries very well.
The Liton show at Manuang Oval
After a quiet period against Keshav Maharaj, Liton thought of playing his natural game and put South African pacers on the backfoot. In such a crucial stage, either a batsman decides to exhibit resolve or counterattack. Liton decided to counterattack, but it was a classic one and not like the modern day Twnety20 style.
Terrific innings from Liton Das. Gave the drooping shoulders some boost. #SAvBAN
— Rohit Sankar (@imRohit_SN) October 7, 2017
Liton’s first boundary was edgy, but the second one was a sheer delight for the purists: Parnell pitched one on a good length and angled in, but Liton was quick to pick up the length and got into the position swiftly to script a boundary through long off.
After tea, Liton witnessed the demise of Imrul Kayes and Sabbir Rahman, but he was not all scared by the critical situation and decided to marshall the tail-ender, Taijul Islam. He was calm and composed at the wicket and exhibited a controlled aggression against pace bowlers who tested him with their variation in length.
Rabada banged one short in the fourth ball of 22nd over. Liton went back and hooked it four by keeping the ball on the ground. It was just like poetry and murder of the cricket ball. At present, you can hardly notice a batsman to execute the hook shot with such an authority. Neither ball was mistimed nor it kissed the edge nor was there any brute force, but it was all about sublime technique.
Rabada changed his length in the 24th over. He decided to pitch it on the good and back of a length outside off. But Liton decided to lean onto the stroke and shift his balance backwards and scripted two eye-catching boundaries through the offside with an absolute surgical precision. Rabada was taken by surprise by the ability of Liton to execute the backfoot stroke-play.
Liton should be a regular member of Test side
Faf brought on Parnell, who pulled his length back but the result was same. A wonderful drive through extra-cover shut the mouth of those who kept on saying, Liton is weak while playing on the offside.
A tap through offside off Phehlukwayo brought up his fifty. But he was not finished yet.
After stitching a 52-run partnership, Taijul departed. Rubel Hossain was playing the role of sheet anchor to Liton’s aggression. In the 37th over, Phehlukwayo was taken to the cleaners by Liton. He pitched the ball up outside off, but each time, Liton exhibited outstanding footwork to crack four boundaries in one over. It was like a ray of hope amid the darkness for Bangladesh.
[fve] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOX3JqfN_9s [/fve]
But his end was a soft one. He attempted a pull shot against Rabada on the front foot and edged the ball to Faf. A great knock came to an end but it earned plenty of accolades from the experts of the game.
Liton showed his teammates, batting is not at all tough on this track and one needs to show the right attitude and technique to fetch runs. Technically and temperamentally, Liton is an asset. He showed great character while batting with the tail-enders and his ability with the bat and gloves should make him a regular member of Bangladesh Test team.