RAWALPINDI: (Sports Reporter) Babar Azam and Shan Masood put Pakistan in driving seat against Bangladesh on the second day of the first Test here at Pindi Stadium on Saturday.
Babar played marvellous cricket, as his ground shots, pulls and straight drives were all perfect. His patience to see off early overs made him different from the rest of the pack.
He played one of the finest knocks of his life, as hepunished all the Bangladeshi bowlers. He smashed 19 boundaries and one six in his classic unbeaten innings of 143 off 192 deliveries.
He put on 108-run partnership for the third wicket with opener Shan Masood, who also played superbly and scored 100 runs with 11 boundaries before losing patience and gifting his wicket to Taijul Islam.
Another stylish batsman Asad Shafiq was also unbeaten at the crease with Babar, after scoring 60 runs with 8 boundaries, as Pakistan were at 342 for the loss of three wickets, with total lead of 109 runs and seven wickets in hand, at close of the second day.
Pakistan team is in comfortable position to pile more misery on Bangladeshi bowling attack, who completely failed to take advantage from the pitch despite getting two early wickets.
New batting sensation Abid Ali failed to perform and score a single run on his favourite hunting ground, as he was held by Liton Das of the bowling of Abu Jayed.
Azhar Ali was looking comfortable and batting with lot of authority, but he could not survive for a long time, as he gifted his wicket to Jayed after scoring 34 runs with four boundaries.
Shahn and Babar not only kept Bangladeshi bowlers at bay, but also scored runs freely. They were batting like true champions and none of the Bangladeshi bowlers was able to break their partnership.
However, it was lack of consideration, which resulted in Shan’s dismissal. Abid must blame himself for not opening his account, as he simply threw away his wicket to a wayward delivery.
Earlier, former Pakistan captain Majid Khan handed over cap to Babar in a simple but impressive ceremony held at the stadium. The spectators present in huge numbers at the venue were highly passionate.
They were provided excellent entertainment by Shan and Babar. When Babar came to the crease after the dismissal of captain Azhar, the entire crowd started chanting Babar’s name.
Babar, who had played majority of his cricket in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, responded in true style, as he acknowledged the overwhelming support by hitting the opponent bowlers to all sides of the park.
While addressing the press conference, centurion Shan said: “The ball was moving in the air when it was new. It was easy to bat on the second day. Azhar and Babar gave me lot of confidence.
Our bowlers deserve all the credit for providing us good condition, which helped us in scoring freely and posting decent total with three days in hand. We had three openers in the squad.
Opening is a difficult job due to new ball and when openers once settle, they score big runs. I had a plan to prolong innings with Babar before tea, but I played a bad shot and got out.”
“Test cricket takes time to settle down. Even our best batsman Babar Azam took time to settle down, as Test cricket needs time and patience. I was not relaxed, as lots of things are going on in the mind at the time of batting.
I was thinking about going for charge after tea, but I committed a mistake and lost my wicket. I will make sure that such things never happen again. As we have more than 100 runs lead, we will try to score maximum runs with the remaining wickets, so that we could play without pressure in the fourth innings,” Shan concluded.
While sharing his views Bangladesh bowling coach Ottis Gibson said: “We bowled well in patches. We got early wickets, but we could not maintain the momentum. We need to be lot more consistent.
A drop catch could have made the difference. It was overall a tough day. It is my first Test with Bangladesh team. Babar Azam, who is a world class player, got chance on 4 and then he punished us.”