When Liton Das reached his fifty, he didn't raise his bat or show much excitement. He just gave a little thumbs up to the players and the staff at the dugout, probably suggesting, "Don't worry, I'm here." He got lucky twice, struggled with fitness towards the end of the day but managed to remain not out at stumps on day one of the first Test between Bangladesh and Pakistan. When he was going off, several Pakistani players walked up to him and shook hands.
Then there was Mushfiqur Rahim at the other end - cool, calm and collective. The same Mushfiqur Rahim was under huge pressure leading up to the match following his axing from the T20 squad and controversial comments in the media.
Talking about pressure, probably no Bangladeshi cricketer has been under so much pressure as Liton. Horrible performances with the bat in the T20 World Cup, two dropped catches - Liton Das was probably having the worst time of his career.
But these two not only bailed Bangladesh out of trouble but also put Bangladesh in the driving seat. They were, at one stage, 49 for four, staring down the barrel. But Liton and Mushfiqur buried their shorter format demons and lived up to the expectations in the red-ball format.
Liton got the backing of the team as well. Bangladesh batting coach Ashwell Prince said that the whole dressing room was happy when he got to the hundred. In the pre-match press conference on Thursday, Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque said, "If you see his performances in Tests, he has scored runs at an average of 45-50 over the last 12 months. I don't think his recent T20 performance will affect his batting in Tests."
Mominul was right. Liton showed no signs of nervousness and it was difficult to imagine that Liton is having such a bad time in T20 cricket. Some of the shots he played were outstanding. He played all around the ground, cut well, used his feet and stayed positive.
"I was really impressed by how calm and composed Liton was today. I think the most nervous everyone got was when Liton started getting cramps. We were hoping that his body could hang in there till the end of the day. He is going to recover tonight, and hopefully he can continue tomorrow," said Prince.
"I don't understand why there's so much comparison between T20s and Tests. There is no comparison. The guy has time to bat in Tests. It is a completely different batting mentality in T20s. If we talk about Tests, let's talk about how he constructed his innings today. He was solid in defence. He was decisive in leaving balls outside the stump. He was committed and positive when playing an attacking shot," he added.
Mushfiqur was focused as ever and rarely played a false stroke. Although he is known as a batter who scores heavily square of the wicket on both sides, Mushfiqur scored a lot of runs down the ground including a boundary with an on-drive off Shaheen Shah Afridi.
"Liton and Mushfiqur continued the plan of hitting straight down the ground. It is important in red-ball cricket. You want to play as straight as possible when the ball is at the stumps. We saw great composure and skills in this performance," mentioned Bangladesh's batting coach.
The failure of the top-order was overshadowed by the monumental effort from Mushfiqur and Liton. The opening partnership didn't even last five overs. Prince credited Pakistani bowlers for making things difficult for the top-order.
"We are playing against one of the best bowling attacks in the world. Until Shaheen Shah Afridi got Saif out, both were looking confident. He bowled one of the best bumpers you can get from any fast bowler in the world. In my view, any batsman who has been dismissed with a good ball can sleep easy at night. It is the type of messages that I try to bring to the team on a regular basis. In a Test, somebody should bowl a good ball to get you out. You shouldn't be playing a poor shot to get out," he said.
Pakistani bowlers toiled hard throughout the day without much luck as Mushfiqur and Liton continued to score comfortably. "It's a slow pitch and we need to bowl in good areas to get the breakthrough," said fast bowler Hasan Ali.
"We should appreciate the way Liton Das and Mushfiqur batted. They played really well," added Hasan.
The plan for Bangladesh would be to bat as long as possible as the pitch at the ZACS tends to get better for batting as time progresses and doesn't deteriorate much. "The pitch is good for batting. Is 400 enough, or 500 enough? No one knows. We just have to keep batting until the captain feels we have enough to declare," said Ashwell Prince.
Play on day two of the match will begin at 9.45 am, 15 minutes earlier than scheduled.