The Chittagong wicket has flattered to deceive on the opening day of the second Test yesterday. It was not a virtual dust-bowl as it was when Bangladesh played against England about a year ago. It was a nightmare for pace bowlers and more importantly hardly assisted the spinners.
So when Bangladesh, leading the two-match series 1-0, won the most-important toss and elected to bat against Australia at this purpose-built venue in the port city, plenty of runs were on the cards. The Tigers finished the day on 253-6 – a score certainly below-par considering the benign nature of the wicket, where the ball did not turn that much and offered little bounce.
But if you take into account of what one Nathan Lyon has done – the off-spinner picked up his third five-for in successive Tests – the scoreline at the end of the day was more than what the home side would have bargained for. Five wickets down for 117 inside one hour after the lunch break, the Tigers staged a spectacular turnaround in the form of a 105-run sixth-wicket stand between Sabbir Rahman and skipper Mushfiqur Rahim after Lyon exploits.
However, despite Lyon's fantastic feat, the day could have belonged to the home side had Sabbir not got stumped to an innocuous delivery with only a few overs remaining. The dashing right-hander, who made his Test debut at this very ground against England last year, was caught overbalanced while attempting to pull a wide delivery down the leg-side from Lyon. And it needed a smart work from Aussie wicket-keeper Mathew Wade, who whipped the bails in a flash that ended the right-hander's solid knock of 66, his highest score, off 116 balls including six fours and a six.
Until Sabbir got out in a painful fashion, he played the role of aggressor with Mushfiqur providing solidity at the other end. The pair consolidated in the post tea session with a lot of maturity and patience with Sabbir refusing to compromise his natural game, latching on to the deliveries offered to hit. His first boundary of the innings against Lyon through extra cover was a treat to watch. He was also not afraid of taking the aerial route whenever width was offered.
Mushfiqur, who negotiated the last over safely, finished the day on an unbeaten 62, his 18th fifty that included five boundaries. Nasir Hossain was batting at the other end with 19.
However, apart from that sixth-wicket stand it was a Lyon show. Known for his accuracy, the off-spinner with his drifting deliveries that skidded on, accounted for the first four Tigers batsmen. Interestingly, all of them were adjudged leg-before while playing inside the line of the ball and missing it completely.
Opener Tamim Iqbal, who batted brilliantly in both the innings of the first Test, failed to cash in on an early reprieve – he nicked Pat Cummins in the seventh over in the third slip but Glenn Maxwell dropped a sitter. He was the first of four Lyon victims after scoring nine – he was undone by a delivery that held its line.
Imrul Kayes (4) paid the penalty of playing a rash slog sweep. Umpire Nigel Llong however initially denied the leg before appeal but Steve Smith was sure enough to review that in favour of the Aussies as the Tigers were reduced to 21/2.
Soumya Sarkar (33) was playing confidently with Mominul Haque, who made it into the team as an additional batsman in place of pacer Shafiul Islam, before paying the price of playing on the back-foot at the stroke of the lunch. It ended a promising 49-run third wicket stand. Lyon also had Mominul immediately after lunch (31) in the same fashion to enter a unique record-book.
This was the first time in history where Bangladesh's top four batsmen were dismissed leg before in a Test match and the second time that happened for any country. It was also the first time the Tigers' top four batsmen were dismissed by spin, and the first time any nation's top four have been trapped leg before by the same bowler.
The 29-year-old, who eventually bagged his 11th five wicket haul to move into seventh on the list of Australia's greatest ever Test wicket-takers with 261 wickets, leapfrogging paceman Jason Gillespie, ended the day with figures of 5/77 from his 28 overs.
Left-arm spinner Ashton Agar took the other wicket – the prized scalp of the hero of the first Test Shakib Al Hasan (24), who injudiciously tried to cut a delivery too close to his stump.
The visitors, desperately seeking to avoid a series defeat, made two changes with all-rounder Hilton Cartwright and Steve O'Keefe returning to the eleven in place of Usman Khawaja and injured pace bowler Josh Hazlewood.