Pakistan but behind the disappointment of being unable to put it across Bangladesh in the first Test at Khulna by putting up a highly impressive batting performance on the opening day of the Mirpur Test. Having been inserted into bat after Bangladesh won the toss, the Pakistani batsmen made the hosts regret their decision as they piled up an imposing 323 for 3 by stumps. Pakistan lost their openers early, but were guided in the right direction by Younis Khan and Azhar Ali, who slammed centuries and featured in a 250-run stand for the third wicket.
Younis and Azhar joined forces with Bangladesh having sent back the Pakistan openers without much runs on the board. The duo gave Bangladesh bowlers the respect they deserved early on, when the ball was moving around. But, once they got their eyes in, both were dominant. Younis was the more aggressive of the two. Clearing his front leg, he dispatched Taijul and Shakib Al Hasan for sixes over long on. He also employed the sweep to great effect against spinners, and the slow bowlers could not make any impression on his on a first-day surface.
Azhar was fluent, but also had luck going his way. He edged Mohammad Shahid to third slip when on 18, but was recalled as the bowler had overstepped. Then Mominul Haque could not convert two difficult chances offered to him at silly point and short leg respectively. Once he got over the nervous period, Azhar was more at home out in the middle. While Younis remained the aggressor, Azhar also had his stroke-filled moments. He played a couple of smashing strokes against Shuvagata Hom and Shakib as Pakistan went to tea at 196 for 2.
In the final session, both Azhar and Younis carried on the great work, and crossed the three-figure mark. With the pitch offering no assistance, the duo had it easy in the final session. Younis got to his hundred in 142 balls while Azhar took over 200 balls to get there. The partnership added exactly 250 when Younis fell to Shahid for 148, against the run of play. Azhar meanwhile battled on and remained unbeaten on 127 at stumps on the opening day, and had skipper Misbah-Ul-Haq for company, who was nine not out.
Bangladesh were dealt a massive blow very early on in the match when Shahadat Hossain had to walk off the field after only two balls after having a fall. He is unlikely to take any further part in the match as he is said to have tumbled again, during practice when the lunch break was on. Luckily, Shahid rose to the occasion, and dismissed Mohammad Hafeez, getting him to edge a straighter one, after setting him up with an in-coming lifter. Sami Aslam also fell cheaply to Taijul Islam and, at 58 for 2, Bangladesh seemed to be on top, but Younis and Azhar turned things around.
--By A Cricket Correspondent