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Day 2: Twin tons put Pakistan in pole position in Rawalpindi Test

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Rawalpindi, Feb 8:  After the bowlers did their bit to keep Bangladesh to 233 in the first innings, the Pakistan batsmen made merry on the second day, raking up 342 runs for the loss of just three wickets to put their side on top in the opening Test match in Rawalpindi. While Shan Masood sizzled in the first half of Day 2, it was Babar Azam’s turn to extend Bangladesh’s misery towards the end of the day as both batsmen struck centuries to rubberstamp Pakistan’s domination.

Pakistan lost opener Abid Ali in just the second over of the morning when he poked outside off against Abu Jayed but the early strike did little to change the fortunes of this Test match. Masood was fluent striking boundaries at regular intervals against the new ball with Azhar Ali consolidating at the other end. After the first hour of play, both batsmen looked fluent enough before Jayed’s reintroduction gave Bangladesh a wicket against the run of play, just before Lunch. Bangladesh were hopeful of staying in the contest with more wickets in the post lunch session but the game continued to slip away from them with Masood and Babar seizing control.

Masood began the second session with a boundary through covers to signal his intentions but Bangladesh missed a great chance to put a break on the scoring. Babar, who took 16 balls to get off the mark, tried to take on Taijul Islam but mistimed it completely, only for a running Ebadat Hossain to mess the chance completely. And on expected lines, the Pakistan No. 4 made the visitors pay big time. He pulled Abu Jayed for his first boundary and drove Taijul through the covers to grow in confidence. Four more boundaries came off Babar’s bat in the next over with Masood taking a backseat.

Babar’s half-century and Masood’s third Test ton pretty much came around the same time as the visitors wore a deflated look already. But once again, a wicket came out of nowhere for Bangladesh when Masood lost focus after the ton. He missed a fuller delivery from Taijul that turned in and hit the stumps. A wicket just before Tea is just what Bangladesh needed to come back with some renewed hope. But whatever hope they gathered during those 20 minutes were squashed pretty quick when Babar joined forces with Asad Shafiq to milk the attack.

Two similar boundaries back-to-back via midwicket from Babar helped Pakistan level the scores and eventually take the first innings lead, and Shafiq too took on Jayed by creaming one through covers in his following over. Babar brought up his fifth Test ton with a strike rate of almost 75. Anything that Bangladesh threw at these two were thwarted as the session run rate consistently hovered above four.

Bangladesh’s tactics to delay taking the new ball didn’t work either and finally when they did opt for it, Babar dispatched Taijul for the first six of the innings to pretty much sum up Pakistan’s domination. Bad light once again brought an early end to Bangladesh’s suffering but with Pakistan already leading by 109 with seven more wickets left, there’s little room for respite for the visitors in the following days.

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