Liton century, Mushfiqur 82* set Bangladesh off to fine start in Chattogram

An unbroken double-century stand between Liton Das (113) and Mushfiqur Rahim (82) has put Bangladesh on course for a daunting first-innings total as the Tigers finished the opening day on 253 for four at stumps in Chattogram.

The pair helped Bangladesh recover from an early setback and spent two wicket-less sessions, stitching up 204 runs in the fifth wicket to wrest back control from the visitors.

After Mominul Haque chose to bat at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium on Friday, Pakistan bowlers put the top order to the sword, reducing the hosts to 49 for four in the first session.

The seamers found good swing at the outset and threatened early on. Opener Saif Hassan (14), appearing intent on driving on the up, fell to a fine catch at short leg off Shaheen Shah Afridi (1-50) and triggered a slide.

His partner Shadman Islam (14) departed three overs later, adjudged leg-before to an inswinger from around the wicket off Hasan Ali after the pacer struggled for a bit to find the correct line. A Bangladeshi review went down along with the wicket.

After Sajid Khan’s turn off the track coaxed an edge from skipper Mominul (6) - a dismissal that required Pakistan to review to overturn the umpire’s decision, Nazmul Hossain Shanto flayed Faheem Ashraf left of point for a catch. Another wicket went down for a score of 14, but it brought Liton and Mushfiqur together in the middle.

Struggling for form and being dropped from the T20 side, Liton took on the bowlers in determined fashion, fighting off the new ball and the spinners and rewarded his skipper, who kept faith in him and backed him up for a mental recovery after a slump.

Mushfiqur, at the other end, was instrumental in reviving the Tigers’ innings by removing the threat of Shaheen Afridi with some calculated strokeplay.

The duo saw Bangladesh through the first session and approached the second with caution, but they grew more assured with their footwork and timing as the bounce stayed true and boundaries came about every now and then, blunting the threat of Pakistan bowling changes.

Anything outside the off stump was dealt with trademark precision by Mushfiqur while Liton read the spinners swiftly and showed little fear to charge down the track to them, even after Nauman Ali had kept them quiet in the second session. He laced his 225-ball innings with 11 boundaries and an explosive six.

Bangladesh picked up the scoring rate after the drinks break, forcing Babar Azam to turn to Hasan but as the day grew weary, the track offered little for the bowlers. Bangladesh, having realised this, made most of the final overs.

Liton offered a sharp chance at square leg on 67, but apart from that, Pakistan had little to regret as runs flowed from either end after tea. Liton went for a quick single in the 78th over to reach his maiden Test century, sending the home crowd into raptures.

With the lights fading, a new ball taken and Liton struggling with a cramp, the pair kept the defence standing and reached the 200-run mark, marking just the sixth time in Test cricket history where a team lost four wickets within 50 runs before cropping up a double-century stand.

It was also the second time Bangladesh put up a double century stand against the subcontinent rivals.

Having scored double centuries on the last two occasions he reached three-digit scores, Mushfiqur ended the day 18 runs short of his eighth ton in the format as Bangladesh achieved a fine start in ICC Test Championship’s second phase.