Openers Abid Ali and Abdullah Shafique each hit unbeaten fifties to put Pakistan in a commanding position in the first Test against Bangladesh in Chittagong on Monday (November 29). Set a target of 202, the visitors reached 109-0 at stumps on the fourth day and need only 93 runs on the final day.
Ali was 56 not out at the end of play, adding to his first-innings score of 133, while debutant Shafique finished unbeaten on 53. The duo, opening for the first time in Test cricket, also put on 146 runs in the first innings. Their current partnership puts Pakistan in an imperious position to win the first Test.
"In Test cricket, a fourth day is very crucial," said Shafique.
"Our plan today was to restrict them for the lowest total possible so that we can easily chase it down. This is what we were trying and we were successful."
Fast bowler Shaheen Afridi earlier claimed 5/32 to help Pakistan bowl out Bangladesh for 157 runs in their second innings despite wicketkeeper-batsman Liton Das making a fighting fifty.
Afridi trapped Liton leg-before and then had Abu Jayed out for a duck to complete his fourth five-wicket Test haul. Off-spinner Sajid Khan, who finished with 3-33, wrapped things up by dispatching Taijul Islam.
Resuming on 39-4, Bangladesh looked down and out once they lost Mushfiqur Rahim in the first over of the day, before Liton, who struck a hundred in the first innings, hauled the hosts back to respectability with 59 off 89 balls.
The hosts had got off to a positive start with Mushfiqur hitting a boundary off the first ball of the morning, bowled by Hasan Ali. But two balls later, he left a delivery that darted back in and departed for 16 after Hasan uprooted his off-stump.
Liton joined the overnight batsman Yasir Ali to prevent further collapse. Pakistan helped with their indiscipline with the ball, allowing both batters to deal in boundaries and release the pressure. Just when they looked ready to prosper, Afridi's low bouncer hit the helmet of Yasir. Few minutes later, Yasir walked back to the dressing room retired hurt. Nurul Hasan replaced him as a concussion substitute.
Liton survived on 26 when he was given out, caught at short leg off Sajid. The replay showed that the ball only hit his pad and was going down the legside. Sajid was rewarded for his persistence as he pinned Mehidy Hasan leg-before for 11.
Nurul replaced Yasir after Mehidy's dismissal and barely survived a strong caught-behind appeal just before lunch.
However, Bangladesh threw it away when things were looking good. Nurul and Liton had taken Bangladesh's lead too 197 when the former half-heartedly went for an aerial shot. Dancing down the track, Nurul reached the pitch of the ball but didn't go through the shot, thus finding Faheem Ashraf at the long-on fence, getting dismissed for 15. The Bangladesh innings slid after Nurul departure, They crashed from 153/6 to 157 all out. The last three wickets, the first of which was of Liton, fell on 157.
"We were really good in the first two days. Most of day three was good, but we didn't bat well in the last session yesterday," said Bangladesh coach Russell Domingo.
"It put us under big pressure. It was disappointing to see."
Bangladesh have failed to defeat Pakistan in any of their 10 previous encounters.