Mushfiqur, Sabbir lift Bangladesh after Lyon’s strikes

Nathan Lyon set a world record, Matthew Wade produced two of his best moments behind the stumps for Australia and Pat Cummins toiled manfully to carry the burden of being his side’s lone paceman. However, Bangladesh’s captain Mushfiqur Rahim provided the spinal contribution of the innings to keep the hosts afloat on an enervating day one in Chittagong.

Needing a win to avoid handing Bangladesh only their fourth Test series victory, Australia’s selection of just one fast bowler in Pat Cummins left them relying heavily on their spinners on a surface that so far has offered precious little turn or variable bounce.

In fact, Australia’s selection seemed geared better towards that previous surface than this one, including a third spin bowler in Steve O’Keefe, who bowled to the sort of level that might be reasonably expected of a bowler who this time last week was watching on his couch in Sydney, seemingly at peace with the conclusion that his Test career was at an end. At the same time, Usman Khawaja was left to wonder how much better he might have fared on a pitch that allowed rather more liberties for batsmen.

All this made the captain Steven Smith grateful that Lyon bowled with impressive accuracy and persistence to claim the first four wickets of the match through lbw verdicts, a first in Test match history. The last two of which arrived either side of lunch ended promising starts by Soumya Sarkar and Mominul Haque. Bangladesh took a conservative approach in line with their selection of no fewer than eight batsmen in the Chittagong XI, and it took the arrival of Sabbir Rahman to join Mushfiqur for a more nimble tack to be taken by the batsmen.

Sabbir played some of the day’s most fluent strokes in a stand ultimately worth 105 and ended only when Wade accomplished an outstanding legside stumping when the batsman overbalanced after attempting a pull shot. Wade celebrated with all the glee of a wicketkeeper who knew he had influenced proceedings, but also the relief of a man who was in serious consideration to be dropped for a part-timer in Peter Handscomb.

Australia must avoid defeat in order to avoid dropping to sixth on the ICC Test rankings, their lowest spot since the system was introduced in 2003. Knowing this, the selectors dropped Khawaja and replaced him with the allrounder Hilton Cartwright, whose ability to bowl seamers allowed for the recall of O’Keefe, the injury replacement for Josh Hazlewood. The hosts included an extra batsman in Mominul at the expensive of the seam bower Shafiul Islam, meaning both sides chosen only one frontline paceman each.

Cummins took the new ball but the second over was bowled by Lyon, who quickly found the ball did not deviate off the surface anywhere near as dramatically as it had done last week. That meant adjustment for both bowler and batsmen, and Lyon was able to adapt most quickly by whirring in towards the stumps.

He claimed Tamim with a delivery that the opener misjudged, though not before he had been missed by Maxwell from a prancing Cummins delivery. Lyon’s breakthrough spared Maxwell too much worry, and a further incision was made when Imrul Kayes tried to sweep and was given out via DRS – replays showing that a double noise had been a case of the ball striking both pads.

Soumya and Mominul were largely untroubled for more than an hour, but the former played down the wrong line to another straight delivery and was struck on the back pad. The batsmen deliberated long and hard before electing not to review, thereby allowing Bangladesh to preserve their two referrals for the afternoon.

Soon after resumption, Mominul was pinned on the back foot by another delivery that skidded on, meaning Lyon became the first bowler in Test history to claim the first four batsmen in an innings all lbw. It was a fitting record given his disciplined lines and lengths, with subtle pace and spin variations to keep the batsmen guessing – in the process passing Jason Gillespie (269 wickets) on Australia’s all-time list of Test match wicket-takers.

Shakib was involved in a few niggling exchanges with the Australians, not least when he and Mushfiqur briefly considered a single after a rebound off the striker from a return throw by a fired-up Cummins. The visitors will feel justified in attempting to distract the world’s No. 1 allrounder after Shakib got a thin edge when fiddling at an Agar delivery outside the off stump, leaving Wade to take a very good catch, staying low with the chance and keeping his footing.

Mushfiqur and Sabbir were thus left with an unpromising platform, but responded with more positive intent to move the scoreboard along, not least in the last over of the second session when the young allrounder Cartwright was hammered for nine runs in his only over of the day up until then. More unthreatening overs in the evening session demonstrated that he was only able to offer Cummins the most rudimentary seam-up support.

O’Keefe meanwhile struggled to find the sort of rhythm that helped reap him 12 wickets against India in Pune earlier in the year. His return took place while he is still suspended from playing in New South Wales’ next assignment, the domestic limited overs tournament, after offensive behaviour towards a female Australian cricketer at the end of season awards night in April.

Mushfiqur’s patience contrasted neatly with Sabbir’s more assertive ways, which seemed set fair to take Bangladesh through to stumps when Cummins looked notably stiff and fatigued in delivering the second new ball. But that was the cue for Lyon to spear one down the leg side and allow Wade to have Sabbir stumped by a matter of millimetres and milliseconds.

Nasir Hossain accompanied his captain to the close, leaving open the possibility of greater runs for Bangladesh on the second morning – every one of which will make it harder for Australia to force victory.

Source: The Daily Ittefaq

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