Shanto’s century puts Bangladesh in driver’s seat

Bangladesh 310 and 212 for 3 (Shanto 104*, Mushfiqur 43*, Patel 1-94) lead New Zealand 317 (Williamson 104, Philips 42, Taijul 4-109) by 205 runs

Najmul Hossain Shanto’s fifth Test century tilted the Sylhet Test heavily towards Bangladesh at the end of the third day. The home side lead New Zealand by 205 runs with seven wickets in hand, after mostly dominating the day’s play.

Shanto added 96 runs for the unbroken fourth wicket stand with Mushfiqur Rahim. This was Shanto’s third Test hundred in the last four innings, after he scored twin tons against Afghanistan back in June. Shanto celebrated in style after he reached the three-figure mark, as Bangladesh breathed a sigh of relief having lost two early wickets in their second innings.

The day also didn’t begin that well for the home side. New Zealand’s ninth-wicket pair of Kyle Jamieson and Tim Southee added 52 runs, but more importantly, they batted out the first hour and a little bit more. Southee and Jamieson struck four boundaries in the partnership, but it was mostly great defensive batting. Bangladesh, too, were guilty of setting deep fields against the two tail-enders.

Finally, after they had played out 17 overs, part-timer Mominul Haque trapped Jamieson lbw for 23. Later in the over, Mominul bowled Southee with a full ball. Southee made a polished 35 off 62 balls.

The Bangladesh openers Zakir Hasan and Mahmudul Hasan Joy saw off the tricky ten overs before lunch but New Zealand struck shortly after the break. Ajaz Patel got Zakir Hasan lbw to a delivery that turned sharply back into his font pad. Zakir didn’t take the review as he walked back for 17, but it was a similar delivery that Patel got him bowled in the first innings.

More bad luck followed for the home side when a Shanto straight drive brushed Southee’s finger and struck the stumps at the non-striker’s end. Joy was slightly outside the crease, and although he tried to get back, he fell inches short. Joy had painstakingly stuck along for 46 balls to make just eight runs.

Mominul and Shanto then added 90 runs for the third wicket to get Bangladesh into the right track after the first two wickets. Mominul nurdled the ball around, with four boundaries interspersed in his 68-ball stay.

During this partnership and just before the tea break, offspinner Glenn Philips put saliva on the ball during the 34th over but the incident wasn’t immediately picked up by on-field umpires Ahsan Raza and Paul Reiffel. As per ICC guidelines, once they see the incident on TV, Bangladesh will be rewarded five penalty runs.

Mominul, meanwhile, played a superb cut and a classical cover drive, as well as an off-drive and a pull. Compare these assured shots to his run-out, it was quite deflating. As he drove the ball towards mid-on, Mominul watched the ball and ran hard, only to notice Shanto had turned his back at the non-striker’s end. Tom Blundell whipped off the bails with Mominul miles away.

Shanto and Mushfiqur Rahim took a bit of time to regroup but settled into a slow rhythm, hardly leaving first gear. Shanto had slowed down after he reached 40, while Mushfiqur supported him with an almost similar pace in batting. He refrained from driving for runs, hitting most of his runs square of the wicket on both sides, getting five boundaries in his 71-ball stay.

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