CHATTOGRAM    -   Afghanistan were in complete control of the one-off Test against Bangladesh in Chattogram after stretching their lead to 374 runs by stumps on the third day. Play ended 20 minutes early after a power failure at the ground shut down the floodlights, which had to turned on because of the dark clouds above Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium.

After Afghanistan ended the first-innings exchanges 137 runs in front, Ibrahim Zadran, the debutant 18-year-old opening batsman, and former captain Asghar Afghan put them in charge with a 108-run stand for the fourth wicket. Ibrahim made 87 and Afghan 50 as they not only lifted the innings from a precarious 28 for 3 but also put the home side under huge pressure.

Ibrahim missed out on becoming the second youngest Test centurion when he fell trying to clear long-on, but his chancy innings provided positive signs for the future in what is a critical juncture in the game for Afghanistan. Afghan supported the youngster with his own brand of solid, stable batsmanship, at times ending up on the pitch trying to defend the spinners well in front of his front pad.

Afghanistan started the day by taking the two remaining Bangladesh wickets within the first 16 minutes, Rashid Khan picking up a five-for when he sent back last man Nayeem Hasan. But then they ran into early trouble when Shakib Al Hasan removed Ihsanullah and Rahmat Shah, the first innings centurion, off consecutive deliveries in the first over. When Nayeem had Hashmatullah Shahidi caught at slip, for the second time in the game, Bangladesh must have been hoping to trigger a collapse and set up a moderate last-innings chase.

But Ibrahim and Afghan were watchful against low, turning deliveries, and although they were fortunate to survive a number of chances that either popped towards the close-in fielders or slightly away from them, they rode their luck. Afghan struck two sixes and four boundaries in his 108-ball innings, but it was Ibrahim’s application that stood out.

The tall batsman came down quickly on the ones that kept low, and did a good job of finding gaps to rotate the strike.

He also struck six fours and four sixes in his 208-ball knock, the end coming against the run of play. Afsar Zazai’s reaction at the other end - mouth open in horror, seeing the youngster throw it away - when he saw Ibrahim hitting it down long-on’s throat was how most at the stadium felt at the time.

Shortly after Ibrahim’s dismissal, Mohammad Nabi fell after hitting his last six in Test cricket, caught at square-leg off Mehidy Hasan. Rashid, however, was more successful in the quest for quick runs, hitting all his 24 runs in fours, five of them coming in a Nayeem over. Zazai remained unbeaten on 34 off 83 balls, and he had No. 10 Yamin Ahmadzai for company when the umpires called off play.

 

 Scorecard

AFGHANISTAN 1ST INNINGS: 342

BANGLADESH 1ST INNINGS:

(OVERNIGHT: 194-8):

S Islam c A Zazai b Y Ahmadzai 0

S Sarkar lbw b M Nabi 17

L Das b R Khan 33

M Haque c A Afghan b M Nabi 52

S Hasan lbw b R Khan 11

M Rahim c I Zadran b R Khan 0

Mahmudullah b R Khan 7

M Hossain not out 48

MH Miraz b Q Ahmad 11

T Islam b M Nabi 14

N Hasan lbw b R Khan 7

EXTRAS: (b4, lb1) 5

TOTAL: (all out, 70.5 overs) 205

FOW: 1-0, 2-38, 3-54, 4-88, 5-88, 6-104, 7-130, 8-146, 9-194, 10-205.

BOWLING: Y Ahmadzai 10-2-21-1; M Nabi 24-6-56-3; Z Khan 9-1-46-0; R Khan 19.5-3-55-5; Q Ahmad 8-2-22-1.

AFGHANISTAN 2ND INNINGS:

Ihsanullah lbw b S Hasan 4

I Zadran c M Haque b N Hasan 87

R Shah c & b S Hasan 0

H Shahidi c S Sarkar b N Hasan 12

A Afghan c S Hasan b T Islam 50

A Zazai not out 34

M Nabi c M Haque b MH Miraz 8

R Khan b T Islam 24

Q Ahmad lbw b S Hasan 14

Y Ahmadzai not out 0

EXTRAS: (b4) 4

TOTAL: (8 wkts, 83.4 overs) 237

FOW: 1-4, 2-4, 3-28, 4-136, 5-171, 6-180, 7-210, 8-235.

BOWLING: S Hasan 16-3-53-3; MH Miraz 12-3-35-1; T Islam 24.4-5-68-2; N Hasan 17-2-61-2; M Haque 10-6-13-0; M Hossain 4-1-3-0.

TOSS: Afghanistan

UMPIRES: Paul Wilson, Nigel Llong

TV UMPIRE: Nitin Menon

MATCH REFEREE: Chris Broad