Bangladesh enjoyed arguably their best day of Test cricket as they utterly dominated the West Indies to move into a position of virtual impregnability at the end of the second day of the second Test yesterday.
Vice-captain Mahmudullah Riyad hit his third Test century, and highest Test score of 136, to shepherd Bangladesh to 508 after he resumed the day along with skipper Shakib Al Hasan with the team score on 259 for five. In the process, the team recorded just the 14th instance in Test history -- and first for Bangladesh -- that all eleven batsmen reached double figures.
While Mahmudullah in particular showed the patience and skill to bat long on the wicket, West Indies showed exactly how not to play spin. They lost five wickets for 29 runs and ended the day on 75 for five, 433 runs behind in the first innings and staring at defeat inside three days, like they suffered in the first Test in Chattogram. The visitors' hopes of revival rest on Shimron Hetmyer, batting on 32, and Shane Dowrich, who was not out on 17.
Unlike Chattogram, it was lack of turn at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur that completely flummoxed West Indies' top order. They kept playing for the turn only to see the ball sneak in through the resultant gap between bat and pad. Shakib started the rot, getting opposite number Kraigg Brathwaite bowled off the sixth ball of the innings and Mehedi Hasan Miraz joined the action in the seventh over, bowling Kieran Powell through the gate. Sunil Ambris played a terrible slog off Shakib in the ninth over to also be bowled. Mehedi completed the set by castling Roston Chase for a golden duck in the 10th over and Shai Hope for 10 in the 12th, making it the first time in 128 years that all of the first five wickets in a Test innings were bowled.
Earlier, the day began with West Indies taking the second new ball and Kemar Roach started proceedings by bowling to Shakib, batting on 55. After a circumspect ending to the first day, the Bangladesh captain signalled his intention to dominate with a boundary through covers off the fourth ball of the day.
The new ball actually sped up the scoring as it came on faster on an otherwise sluggish pitch. Roach did extract some movement with it, beating Shakib outside the off stump twice and, with more luck, could have dismissed Mahmudullah when the batsman was on 32. In the third over of the day, the right-hander poked at an away-going ball and edged low to Shimron Hetmyer at second slip and there was doubt about whether it carried cleanly. With replays proving inconclusive, the soft signal of not out from umpire Ruchira Palliyaguruge is what proved decisive and Mahmudullah batted on. He survived another close call in Roach's next over when a leg-before review stayed with the umpire's call of not out.
In between, Shakib was intent on domination as he swept off-spinner Roston Chase for three boundaries in the 94th over. Shakib looked on course for his sixth Test century, but departed for 80 when he flashed outside the off stump and edged to gully to give Roach a much-deserved wicket. The run-scoring did not abate, however, as Liton Das came in and started hitting the ball fluently and elegantly. Mahmudullah also started to get going, bringing up his half-century off 88 balls with a single off Jomel Warrican in the 101st over.
Neither spin nor pace troubled either batsmen thereafter as they made liberal use of the gaps in a defensive field setting with singles and the odd boundary. Liton opened up as the lunch interval approached, hitting Chase for the innings' only six and a four in the 114th over, with the latter bringing up his fourth Test fifty in just 50 deliveries. Bangladesh reached the lunch break on 387 for six having completely dominated the first session by plundering 128 runs in 25 overs.
Liton's shot selection failed him four overs after the break when he was bowled by off-spinner Brathwaite, choosing the reverse sweep to a ball from around the wicket that landed outside leg stump. He walked away for a 62-ball 54, ending a 92-run seventh-wicket stand that came off just 21.2 overs. Even as Mehedi Hasan Miraz came and departed, caught behind off Warrican for 18, Mahmudullah calmly carried on towards his hundred.
He found able support in number 10 batsman Taijul Islam, with whom the vice-captain constructed a 56-run 10th-wicket stand. Mahmudullah's only moment of uncertainty came when he was two short of his hundred, as in his anxiety to get to the landmark he almost ran himself and Taijul out in the same delivery in the 139th over, but both survived because of Caribbean incompetence -- a recurring theme of the day. Having spent more than 10 overs in the 90s, Mahmudullah finally brought up his hundred in the next over with an expertly played cut off Chase for four off his 203rd ball. He opened up with a brace of fours in the following over but retreated into his zone of calm to take the team to tea on 471 for eight.
Taijul was caught behind off Brathwaite in the 145th over, and Nayeem Hasan then became the 11th batsman to reach double figures in the innings. Mahmudullah's vigil came to an end with a ripper from Warrican that pitched on leg and crashed into off stump to signal the end of 154 overs of toil for the West Indies.