Zakir, Najmul fifties give Bangladesh huge lead over Afghanistan

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Zakir Hasan and Najmul Hossain both hit unbeaten half-centuries to guide Bangladesh to 134-1 in their second innings and consolidate the hosts’ control in their one-off Test against Afghanistan in Dhaka on Thursday.

Bangladesh decided against enforcing the follow-on despite taking a 236-run lead in the first innings and were up by 370 against Afghanistan at stumps on the second day, with Zakir and Najmul unbeaten on 54 apiece. The pair added 116 runs in their unbroken second-wicket stand with Mahmudul Hasan (17) the only batsman so far dismissed in the second innings.

Ebadot Hossain returned figures of 4-47 with Bangladesh needing just three overs after tea to wrap up the Afghan innings, with the tourists bowled out for just 146. Spinners Mehidy Hasan Miraz and Taijul Islam dismissed the final two batsmen, ending with two wickets apiece.

Ebadot and Shoriful Islam reduced Afghanistan to 51-4 shortly after the lunch break, before Nasir Jamal and Afsar Zazai put up some resistance with a 65-run fifth-wicket stand. Mehidy broke the partnership by trapping Jamal lbw for 35 and Ebadot soon dismissed Afsar for 36 to expose Afghanistan’s tail.

Bangladesh resumed their first innings at 362-5 but were all out for 382 early in the morning as the hosts lost their last five wickets for just nine runs. Nijat Masood claimed 5-79 on debut for Afghanistan, while pacer Yamin Ahmadzai finished with 2-39. But Afghanistan then lost three wickets in quick succession to spoil their storming start to the day.

Ibrahim Zadran nicked Shoriful and was out for six, while fellow opener Abdul Malik made 17 before falling to Ebadot, Zakir taking a sharp low catch at third slip. Rahmat Shah was next to fall after he holed out to Taskin Ahmed at midwicket off Ebadot for nine. Afghan skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi departed for nine after the break.

The hosts had shown some positive intent to build on their overnight total before their sudden collapse. Mehidy was unbeaten overnight but flashed a catch to Amir Hamza at gully off Yamin to end his promising innings at 48. Mushfiqur Rahim (47) and Taijul Islam (0) followed Mehidy in the next over from Nijat, before Yamin dismissed Taskin for two.

Nijat then bowled Shoriful to wrap up the Bangladesh innings in unexpectedly swift style. Afghanistan won the only other Test against Bangladesh when they beat the home side by 224 runs at Chittagong in 2019.

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