What ought to have been advantage Bangladesh, turned out to be an evenly poised first day of the first test match between Bangladesh and Afghanistan at Chattogram. A well-crafted century by Rahmat Shah was the highlight of the day as the batsman went on to become the first-ever century-maker for his country. He unfortunately missed out on achieving the feat in their test match against Ireland after scoring 98 runs in which, Afghanistan went on to win the match.
The youngest ever captain in Test cricket Rashid Khan of Afghanistan won the toss and unhesitatingly elected to bat. Not only did it turn out to be a good toss to win but a good decision as well. Despite Bangladesh opting to play with four spinners, they weren’t able to make much of an impression in the minds of the opposition batsmen who were able to mix caution with aggression. The only moment of jubilation came when Rahmat Shah was dismissed immediately after scoring his century quickly followed by the dismissal of their most experienced player Mohammad Nabi who was bowled by the Nayeem Hasan who managed two wickets in quick succession. Earlier, Taijul Islam by dismissing the opener Ihsanullah, became the fastest to get to a hundred wickets by a Bangladeshi bowler and which eventually turned out to be the only talking point of the day.
A placid wicket at Chattogram at no stage looked to offer any additional assistance to the spinners, who tried relentlessly to extract something to keep the batsmen guessing. With Soumya Sarkar, the only bowler to use the new ball, appeared as ineffective as the spinners and was used only to fill in the numbers. What was heartening to see as far as Afghanistan batsmen were concerned, was the beautiful balance they had executed while negotiating the spinners and their footwork and placement of shots were impeccable.
Asghar Afghan the former captain also showed how much of an invaluable player he is for the side despite being unceremoniously stripped off the captaincy, after having led their side to qualify for the World cup 2019 which surprisingly was handed over to Gulbadin Naib who proved to be a complete failure during the big event. A hundred run partnership with the century-maker Rahmat Shah and another 50 plus partnership with the promising Afsar Zazai have given Afghanistan the launching pad to post a commanding total on the second day.
After being outclassed by India in their inaugural test match the Afghans baptism at this level can in no way be discredited as they beat Ireland convincingly by 7 wickets with both Rahmat Shah and Asghar Afghan playing pivotal roles in their victory. Therefore, winning a test match in only their second outing and showing the right attitude and approach in their third test match only goes to show that skill, physical fitness and temperament are all the attributes that the Afghans are endowed with. The onus will quickly shift to Shakib Al Hasan and his men come the second day as the Afghanistan team is not going to be the side that is going to lose the test match from here onwards.
With 271/5 on the first day and two unbeaten batsmen, Asghar Afghan on 88 and Afsar Zazai on 35 will try to consolidate further, unless Shakib Al Hasan makes early inroads and keeps their total to manageable proportions. Not to forget that the Bangladeshi batsmen will have to contend with not only the finest leg spinner in the world, but a bowling attack that can cause serious headaches to any side.
- The writer is a former cricketer and current cricket analyst