Pakistan crushes Bangladesh

JAVED OMAR scored a century, Habibul Bashar missed it by a whisker, Mohammad Rafique grabbed five wickets, Alok Kapali recorded a rare hat-trick and Bangladesh got its first ever innings lead in 23 Tests.

RIZWAN EHSAN ALI

Javed Omar acknowledges the applause of the crowd after scoring his maiden Test century. — Pic. AFP-

JAVED OMAR scored a century, Habibul Bashar missed it by a whisker, Mohammad Rafique grabbed five wickets, Alok Kapali recorded a rare hat-trick and Bangladesh got its first ever innings lead in 23 Tests. All these sound terrific for the minnows. But hang on. The eventual result was a nine-wicket victory for Pakistan inside four days in the second Test. The victory gave Pakistan an unbeatable 2-0 lead and broke its jinx of not recording a series victory at home since defeating West Indies in the 1997-98 season.

On a dead wicket, everything was going according to the plans of coach Dav Whatmore at the Arbab Niaz Stadium in Peshawar until that cruel last session of the third day when Pakistan polished off the top Bangladesh batting line-up and got four wickets for 52 runs before eventually getting the visitors out for 96 — an easy victory target of 163 runs.

"I am simply speechless. It has definitely something to do with the mental attitude of our players," said a shellshocked Whatmore. The Bangladesh coach added that he was looking forward to Bangladesh's first Test victory after Pakistan was restricted to 295 in reply to Bangladesh's total of 361.

"We were doing all the things right, but I don't know how our batsmen failed in the second innings," Whatmore said.

Alok Kapali (centre), who became the first Bangladeshi to record a hat-trick, being greeted by his team-mates. — Pic. AFP-

Fine finishing which is required in top class cricket is certainly missing in the Bangladeshis and they might have to wait for some time to master that art. They dominated the Test match for eight sessions — despite losing eight wickets in the first innings for 51 runs — six of them to speedster Shoaib Akhtar. But again all the fine work went down the drain in one and a half hours of third day's last session.

Shoaib's pace was certainly one of the factors that caused the downfall of the Bangladeshis, but after keeping the Rawalpindi Express at bay for 17 overs they fell apart in a span of 21 deliveries of Shoaib's brilliant reverse swing in the first innings.

Under the scorching heat of 37{+o} Bangladesh captain Khaled Mahmud rightly opted to bat to give his batsmen a chance to flourish. Although Hannan Sarkar couldn't last long and edged to wicket-keep<147,2,1>er Rashid Latif in only the sixth over of the innings, Javed Omar's patience and Habibul Bashar's aggression stood out. All the three pacemen — Umer Gul, Shabbir Ahmad and Shoaib Akhtar — bowled too many short deliveries and paid the price. Omar and Bashar recorded Bangladesh's best ever partnership — 167 runs — for any wicket and denied Pakistan success for the next four hours.

Pakistan had to wait until after tea to get the breakthrough when Bashar, who scored 71 and 108 in the first Test, missed his much deserved century by just three runs. Shabbir Ahmad's straight delivery hit Bashar's pads and the attractive 25-year-old Bashar departed after hitting nine fours in his 167-ball innings of 97.

"I know there is a big difference between hundred and 97 but what I scored was certainly better than zero," said a smiling Bashar on his effort.

However, Mohammad Ashraful, who got his first chance of the series, made sure that Bangladesh did not lose the advantage of a good start and took the score to 240 by the time stumps were drawn for the day with Javed Omar requiring only four runs for his maiden Test hundred.

Shoaib Akhtar's 100th victim was R. Saleh. Shoaib recorded his best match figures of 10 for 80. — Pic. AFP-

Pakistan had to bear the loss of off-spinner Shoaib Malik, the only change from the first Test squad, when he was ruled out due to groin and calf injury after bowling 12 overs.

Another hot day welcomed Pakistani bowlers on the second morning. Omar completed his century in the fourth over of the day which included 16 fours and came off 292 balls in just over six hours. Pakistan could have got the breakthrough, but Umer Gul failed to hold onto a reflex catch off Ashraful's hard drive as Bangladesh crossed the 300-run mark for only the fourth time in its brief three-year Test history.

Nobody would have expected such a dramatic collapse. Bangladesh lost eight wickets in the second session. Rawalpindi Express, Shoaib Akhtar, who went wicketless for 17 overs in four sessions of play needed just 21 deliveries to get six wickets in a lightning spell.

The procession began when Javed Omar after spending eight hours and 13 minutes at the crease was bowled off a vicious Shoaib yorker when the total was 310. Ashraful mistimed a pull short to give Rashid the simplest of catches while Khaled Mashud failed to read an inswinging delivery and was out plumb leg before. From a comfortable 310 for two, Bangladesh slumped to 315 for six with leg-spinner Danish Kaneria claiming the wicket of Razin Saleh. Five runs later, Shoaib got rid of Alok Kapali and Mohammad Rafique.

Skipper Khaled Mahmud's 40-ball 25 in the end helped Bangladesh cross the 350-run mark before Shoaib returned and wrapped up the innings by claiming the wicket of the Bangladesh captain before tea.

"I always bowl three or four over spells (like I did today) against any opposition and take wickets," said Shoaib. "The wicket was dead. I got all the wickets through sheer speed", added Shoaib, who was released by English county Durham for the first two Tests.

Pakistan lost two vital wickets of Mohammad Hafeez (21) and first Test hero Yasir Hameed (23) before scoring 134 runs at the end of the second day's play. Both batsmen were off to good starts but failed to capitalise. Hafeez snicked to wicket-keeper Mashud while Yasir, was bowled through the gate while attempting to play left-arm spinner Mohammad Rafique across the line. Taufeeq Umer completed his half century before stumps off 73 balls while Inzamam-ul-Haq, desperately needing a big knock was unbeaten on 24. Both the overnight batsmen fell to Rafique's brilliance before lunch and Pakistan was in danger of conceding a lead after progressing to 222 for four. Rafique bowled unchanged for 32 overs and got the rewards for his accuracy. Taufeeq could add just 15 to his overnight score while Inzamam, looking well set for a comeback knock, was bowled by the left-arm spinner for 43.

Pakistan lost three more wickets in the post tea session for the addition of 60 runs. Rashid Latif (40) played a pivotal role in the 64-run stand with Yousuf Youhana but when it looked he had put the Pakistan innings back on the track, Rafique deceived him in the flight and Mashud did a smart stumping. Shoaib Malik spent a painful half an hour at the crease before he also fell to Rafique.

Shoaib Akhtar brought a holiday crowd of 8000 to its feet with two big sixes off Rafique before Mahmud bowled a yorker. Yousuf Youhana completed his half century with nine boundaries and tried his best to bring Pakistan closer to Bangladesh's first innings score.

When Mahmud tossed the ball to Alok Kapali after tea, the leg-spinner needed just seven deliveries to mop up the last three wickets and become the first Bangladeshi to record a hat-trick in Test cricket.

He had Shabbir Ahmad caught off his fifth delivery of the second over and then trapped Danish Kaneria leg before to finish off the over. Yousuf Youhana was left stranded on 64 when Kapali returned to bowl his next over. He bowled a straight delivery as Umer Gul failed to keep his pads off the line and Pakistan was dismissed for 295, conceding a first innings lead of 66 runs.

Shoaib Akhtar, was fully charged on the third afternoon. He had first innings century-maker Javed Omar caught behind for a duck off his fifth delivery of the innings and Taufeeq Umer took a brilliant catch to dismiss Hannan Sarkar when Bangladesh had only 20 runs on the board. Habibul Bashar hit four boundaries but in trying to score another off Umer Gul missed the line and was trapped leg before. Six overs before the stumps, Kaneria made another breakthrough when Taufeeq took his second catch in the slips to get rid of Ashraful.

"We had planned to finish off the match on the fourth day after getting those four big wickets," said captain Rashid Latif. "Shoaib bowled a high class spell of fast bowling and we knew it was just a matter of time to finish off Bangladesh on the fourth morning," he added.

Rashid was right as Shoaib not only completed his 100 wickets in his 27th match on the fourth day, but also went on to record his best ever match figures of 10 for 80.

Mohammad Hafeez sweeps A. Kabir to the fence during the course of his unbeaten century. — Pic. AFP-

Razin Saleh and Khaled Mashud failed to keep their pads away from the stumps to Shoaib's express deliveries while Mahmud became one of Kaneria's victims.

Alok Kapali, one of the only three Bangaldeshis to cross the 10-run barrier, was smartly held by Rashid as Bangladesh was in danger of getting out for its lowest ever Test score. However, Mashrafe Bin Murtaza (14) hit Umer Gul for three boundaries in an over to surpass the previous lowest total of 87 against West Indies at Dhaka last year. Umer Gul dismissed Bangladesh before it crossed the 100-mark when he uprooted Mashrafe and Alamagir Kabir's stumps to finish with three wickets for 16. With only 163 runs needed in more than five sessions it was only a matter of time before Pakistan won. Mohammad Hafeez (102 not out) silenced his critics, who thought he was a one-day player, with an attractive unbeaten century to finish the match in less than an hour after tea.

Taufeeq Umer's wicket was a consolation for Bangladesh captain Khaled Mahmud when only 23 runs were required for victory.

Local boy Yasir Hameed delighted the spectators with four boundaries, but it was Hafeez who dominated Pakistan's run chase.

Hafeez brought up his half century with a mid-wicket six off Kapali and then steered Mahmud to the third man boundary to raise his hundred.

"Now we know the weaknesses and strengths of Bangladesh. Most of our players (like Yasir, Shabbir, Umer, Hafeez) had not played against them before and we hope to improve from here on in the Multan Test," promised Pakistan captain Rashid Latif.

Keeping in view Bangladesh's performance in Peshawar, Pakistan is not far away from recording its first home 3-0 victory since the Wasim Akram-led side blanked West Indies in 1997-98.