The second day of the Khulna Test between Bangladesh and Pakistan began neither side having a distinct advantage. But, by the end of the day’s play Pakistan had clearly surged ahead. They first restricted Bangladesh to 332, courtesy some excellent bowling by their pacers and spinners. Mohammad Hafeez then put Pakistan on top courtesy a much-needed century. Pakistan lost their new opener Sami Aslam (20) after a steady start, but Hafeez (137 not out) in combination with Azhar Ali (65 not out) took Pakistan to a comprehensive 227 for 1 by the end of the day’s play.
Although Hafeez has struggled in the shorter formats, he has done well in Tests whenever the five-day format has come around. He has scored centuries in his previous two Tests as well. Hafeez never looked in any sort of trouble at the crease either against the spinners or against the fast bowlers. In fact, the pacers made the going very easy for him, by constantly bowling on his pads. Hafeez flicked them with ease, and the slow bowlers constantly kept it short, allowing the Pakistan opener to get cheap runs.
Having eased his way into the 90s, Hafeez got to his century in emphatic fashion, hitting consecutive fours off Rubel Hossain. In all, he hit 12 fours and 2 sixes, both of them coming off Shakib Al Hasan, with pulls over midwicket. Hafeez featured in an impressive 50-run stand with rookie opener Aslam, who made 20 from 36 before being caught behind off Taijul Islam’s bowling. Azhar had a couple of reprieves as Mushfiqur Rahim dropped his twice, and even injured himself. But, he utilised his lives, and stayed unbeaten on 65, sharing a massive 177-run stand with Hafeez.
Earlier in the day, Bangladesh failed to capitalise on the decent platform they had build on the opening day. Shakib Al Hasan fell early, charging Zulfiqar Babar, only to be caught by Asad Shafiq at leg slip for 25. Bangladesh never recovered after the poor start. Soumya Sarkar gave his wicket away after scoring 33 off 35. His lofted stroke off Hafeez’s bowling landed in another catch to Shafiq running in from cover. Wicket-keeper Rahim had hung on for 32, but even he gave his wicket away as fell to a spinning delivery from Yasir Shah.
When Rahim fell, Bangladesh had collapsed to 310 for 7. They needed the lower order to fire, but Shah continued to shine as he cleaned up Taijul for a duck very soon. Pakistan were now in the ascendancy, and Wahaz Riaz ensured there was no lower fight back from Bangladesh cleaning up the tail. Riaz finished with 3 for 55. Yasir also claimed three wickets while Hafeez and Babar picked up two wickets each. 332 was a decent first innings total by Bangladesh, but Hafeez made sure that the score would prove to be highly inefficient with a wonderful knock.
--By A Cricket Analyst