An invigorated Younis Khan and a determined Azhar Ali took command of the second Test, putting on 250 for the third wicket, as Pakistan loped to 323 for 3 at stumps. Azhar and Younis defused the early menace when they came together at 58 for 2, began to counterpunch in the second session and were bludgeoning Bangladesh around the Shere Bangla when Younis was dismissed for 148 off 195, with only five full overs to play in the day. Azhar stayed not out on 127, having ridden early luck.
Seduced by an unusually dense covering of grass on the Mirpur surface, Mushfiqur Rahim was dealt a poor hand. He had already gambled by bowling first with only two seamers in the attack. Two balls into the match Shahadat Hossain – who had come into the side for the injured Rubel Hossain – hobbled off the field after taking a tumble during his delivery stride. Mushfiqur was forced to rely on part-time seamer Soumya Sarkar and a phalanx of spinners, who were defanged by a first-day pitch that offered only modest turn. That both centurions should have been out earlier if bowlers had not delivered no balls, added to Mushfiqur’s considerable stress.
The seam movement Mushfiqur had anticipated played a role in Mohammad Hafeez’ dismissal, when Shahid set him up with lifter that jagged back in, then drew the edge with a straighter delivery. That dismissal had Pakistan at 9 for 1, but the injury to Shahadat prevented Bangladesh from pushing as hard as they could have in the first hour. With lunch in sight, they took their second wicket, when Sami Aslam ran at Taijul, and put him in the hands of deep midwicket.
There was tug-and-pull in the first overs of the Azhar-Younis association, as Azhar overcame a series of close calls. Earlier in the morning, he was walking back to the dressing room after edging Mohammad Shahid to third slip, when replays showed the bowler had not landed his heel behind the popping crease. Reprieved on 18, Azhar gave further chances off spin at 34 and 35 to Mominul Haque at silly point and short leg. Both times the ball whizzed quickly between the fielder’s legs before he could get low enough.
Younis deadbatted his way to 1 off 15 before lunch, but opened his shoulders in the second session, clearing his front leg to send the spinners over mid-on – once for six – before masterfully employing the sweep to raise the tempo further. By the fourth hour of the day, a pattern to his progress emerged. Every now and then, he’d interrupt the steady thrum of singles he and Azhar had worked up, to shuffle forward into a sweep. He’d watch for the overcorrection next ball then play off the back foot, often finding runs square on the off side. He reached 50 off 72 balls and by late-afternoon, his strike rate hovered around 75.
Azhar meanwhile, sunk time into re-establishing himself at the crease after his early scares, and was only punishing bad balls for most of the day. Shakib Al Hasan and Taijul Islam attempted a variety of plans, tempting Azhar outside off in the second session to lure another mistake. But Azhar gritted through this, while Younis gave the innings impetus at the other end.
Younis was the first to his hundred after tea, but not before he too was called back to the crease, after presenting a catch to short cover. Soumya had overstepped to reprieve him on 78, and then Younis breezed through to the second new ball, reaching his 29th Test ton with a tow to deep cover to end a period of relative calm, before attacking again. A slog-swept six over deep midwicket off Shakib heralded the charge, which Azhar soon joined. His made his eighth trip to triple-figures by launching Taijul down the ground for four.
With neither spinners nor seamers able to glean much from the old ball, Mushfiqur threw his part-timers at Pakistan, who were only too glad to face them. By the 80th over, Pakistan’s run rate had ticked above 3.5.
Shahid broke the stand with the second new ball, when he had Younis slicing to backward point, two runs short of his 150. Misbah-ul-Haq announced himself at the crease with a six over long-on off the second ball he faced, but otherwise he and Azhar were content to hunker down till stumps.