Bangladesh seems narrowly upfront after a fluctuating day

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MNA Sports Desk: Bangladesh team seems to be narrowly upfront after a very fluctuating day 2 of the second and final test between Bangladesh and England.

Bangladesh’s pursuit of a first Test win over England has been nothing if not absorbing. Following their narrow defeat in Chittagong, they once again fought themselves into a promising position in the second Test, leading by 128 runs and hopeful of setting England a significant fourth-innings target to chase on a wearing surface.

The second day at Mirpur highlighted their fragility, as well as the weaknesses of an England team one-and-a-half games into a seven-Test odyssey (two tests against Bangladesh and five tests against India) on the subcontinent. England were struggling to stay afloat after being reduced to 144 for 8 during the morning session as 18year old off spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz bewitching the top order for his second consecutive five wicket haul, before a record stand between Chris Woakes and Adil Rashid carried them into a unbelievable first-innings lead.

dayA record stand for the ninth wicket between Chris Woakes and Adil Rashid led to another stark reversal of fortunes in the second Test at Mirpur, as England gained a precious first-innings lead of 24 having been eight down and 76 runs in arrears. Their 99-run partnership was eventually stopped in its tracks by the second new ball but by then Bangladesh had visibly wilted after a dominant morning session in which they had claimed 5 for 113.

Woakes became Mehedi Hasan’s sixth wicket, four runs short of a second Test half-century, but he was fortunate not to have been given out on 38, when he slapped a high full toss from Sabbir Rahman straight to midwicket. Chris Gaffaney, the TV umpire, deemed the delivery a no-ball for being above waist height, an undoubtedly harsh decision and England, already ahead by this point, added another 22 runs to their total before being bowled out for 244.

The Woakes-Rashid partnership was England’s highest for the ninth wicket in Asia and, following Bangladesh’s slide from 171 for 1 to 220 all out on the first day, shifted the momentum once again. Mehedi’s second five-wicket haul in as many Tests had left England sagging on the ropes and despite a battling fifty from Joe Root they reached lunch eight down and contemplating a significant deficit.

The lift in confidence England surely gained from taking Bangladesh’s last nine wickets for 49 runs did not sustain them long on a pitch that was perfectly suited to the talents of the home attack. Mushfiqur Rahim bowled his three spinners throughout an extended morning session – which spanned almost 40 overs – and saw the match steadily swing back in the direction of his side.

Woakes and Rashid were initially only focused on getting to the break, though both needed some luck to survive. Woakes was given out caught behind but successfully reviewed, while Mushfiqur’s resort to the DRS could not dislodge Rashid after the ball deflected off his body to slip. Rashid could also have been stumped when Mushfiqur dropped the ball on to the wicket but the bails stayed in place.

They remained glued together for almost the entirety of the afternoon session, playing straight against the softening ball and frustrating Bangladesh’s hopes of a potentially decisive lead. After 56 overs exclusively of spin, Mushfiqur finally called on his one seamer, Kamrul Islam Rabbi; Shuvagata Hom was also introduced before the captain turned, slightly in desperation, to Sabbir, who ought to have had Woakes as his first Test wicket – though it was neither a shot nor a delivery to be proud of.

Gaffaney’s decision further deflated Bangladesh and although Mehedi had Woakes smartly caught at leg slip by the diving Shuvagata and Steven Finn did not last long, edging to Mushfiqur in the next over, the scales had tipped England’s way again.

Bangladesh’s openers responded with a counterattack against the new ball, led by 40 from 47 by the irrepressible Tamim Iqbal, before two wickets in three balls caused another tremor. Imrul Kayes and Mahmudullah steadied the innings but England, mindful of the way Bangladesh plunged from 171 for 1 to 220 all out on the first day, will not have given up hope. And England team can be hopeful again as at the very end of the day, Mahmudullah departed on 47 and stumps it was. Like one of the many tributaries flowing into the Bay of Bengal, this fluctuating match has refused to follow a set course.