One-off Test: Shanto (146) leads Bangladesh dominance against Afghanistan

SUMMARY: Bangladesh 362-5 from 79 overs (Najmul Hossain Shanto 146, Mahmudul Hasan Joy 76, Mehidy Hasan Miraz 43*, Mushfiqur Rahim 41*; Nijat Masood 2-67) vs Afghanistan


Najmul Hossain Shanto‘s attacking 146 – his first Test century at home – gave Bangladesh a high-scoring opening day in the one-off Test against Afghanistan in Dhaka. Shanto made 146, his third century overall – and the first since 2021 – as the hosts reached 362-5 at stumps.

The total was Bangladesh’s second-highest score on the first day of a Test, only behind the 374 they put against Sri Lanka in Chattogram in 2018.

At stumps, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mehidy Hasan Miraz were unbeaten on 41 and 43, respectively, after Bangladesh had lost 3-34 in a mini middle-order collapse from 256-2.

That came after Shanto and Mahmudul Hasan Joy had added 212 for the second wicket, Bangladesh’s only third 200-plus second-wicket stand. Incidentally, Shanto had been involved in their last four 100-plus partnerships for this wicket too.

On Wednesday, Mahmudul complemented him with a steady 76 of his own, although his innings was cut short due to a lapse of concentration against part-timer Rahmat Shah.

That broke his partnership with Shanto in what would turn out to be a forgettable day for Afghanistan, who bowled 15 no-balls – one of which saw Shanto getting bowled on 143 – and seven wides on the day, apart from often misfielding and overthrowing. The heat also played a part, as only 79 overs were bowled in the day.

Shanto had started the third session just like he had started the previous one – with boundaries. He swatted two bouncers from debutant Nijat Masood for a four and a six in the 51st over, but two overs later, the bowler retorted with Mominul Haque’s wicket. Come the 55th over, Masood had Shanto chopping on to his stumps, before the delivery turned out to be a no-ball.

But luckily for Afghanistan, Shanto could add only three more to his score, with Amir Hamza having him caught at deep midwicket. Shanto’s innings of 146 took only 175 balls, and included 23 fours and two sixes. The day ended with Mushfiqur and Mehidy’s partnership unbeaten on 72, although Bangladesh’s dominance had begun once Shanto was at the crease in the second over of the innings.

Masood had taken a wicket with his first ball in his Test career when Zakir Hasan was undone by a ball which jagged away sharply, taking the outside edge on the way to wicketkeeper Afsar Zazai. Thus, Masood became the seventh bowler in the 21st century to strike first ball in Tests, and the first from Afghanistan to do so.

However, Shanto attacked with a plethora of boundaries in the first hour itself. He hardly gave fast bowlers Masood and Yamin Ahmadzai any room to relax, even as left-arm wrist-spinner Zahir Khan was welcomed with three fours in his first spell. An enterprising Shanto reached his fifty in the first session, while Mahmudul held up one end.

Shanto accelerated further in the post-lunch session, reaching his third century with another flurry of boundaries. After hitting 11 fours in the morning, Shanto began the second session with three fours in the same over off Masood. He struck him through the covers twice, and pulled him once.

Two more fours off Hamza in the next over was followed by driving Karim Janat down the ground.

Meanwhile, Mahmudul reached his fifty in the 35th over, shortly before Shanto got to his hundred, benefitting from the five runs resulting due to an overthrow. Three overs later, Shanto reached his century with a quick single.

Shanto’s innings saw most of the boundaries coming down the ground, crashing nine fours through cover and mid-off. Seven of his fours came through midwicket, while both his sixes were hit over square leg. His heavy scoring on the leg side had much to do with how poorly Afghanistan bowled to him.

Mahmudul struck the ball to his preferred areas of covers and midwicket. He fell before the tea break to Rahmat, as Ibrahim Zadran took a stunner at slip. (ESPNcricinfo)

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