Ibrahim Zadran and Asghar Afghan hit half-centuries while Rashid Khan played a quick cameo after claiming five wickets in an innings, as Afghanistan took command in the one-off Test against Bangladesh in Chittagong on Saturday. The visitors -- playing only their third Test in history -- reached 237-8 at stumps on the third day, setting a huge target for Bangladesh by taking an overall lead of 374 runs.
Debutant Zadran hit highest 87 off 208 balls for Afghanistan in the second innings while former skipper Afghan made 50 off 108 balls, his second fifty, adding to Bangladesh’s frustration. The two knocks came at a crucial point for the visitors who were reduced to four for two at the start of their second innings. Skipper Shakib Al Hasan trapped Ihsanullah Janat for four in the third ball of the innings and then dismissed first innings centurion Rahmat Shah for a golden duck in the next ball. Afghan, who also made 92 runs in the first innings, joined Zadran after off-spinner Nayeem Hasan removed Hashmatullah Shahidi for 12.
The left-arm spinner, Taijul Islam finally cracked the stand by dismissing Afghan for 50. As it happened in the first innings, Afghan was again dismissed while trying to force the ball on the leg-side. This time, however, he was caught by Shakib at leg slip.
Zadran continued the good work in the middle with the wicket-keeper batsman, Afsar Zazai in a brief stand of 35 runs for the fifth wicket which was enough to keep the pressure on the home side. Zadran fell 13 runs short of becoming the first Afghan batsman to score a hundred on Test debut but was eventually caught by Mominul Haque at long-on in a failed attempt to clear the ropes.
The off-spinner Mehidy Hasan, then dismissed Mohammad Nabi on the next ball after the all-rounder hit him for a six to revive some hope for Bangladesh.
However, with a lead of 307 already on board, it seemed too little, too late for the home side. Rashid added 24 off 22 balls, during which he struck five fours in an over of Nayeem Hasan before Taijul bowled him finally.
The Afghan skipper earlier completed his five-wicket to finish with 5-55 as Afghanistan bowled out Bangladesh for 205 runs in the first innings after the hosts resumed the third day’s play with 194-8. Rashid, who scored 51 runs with the bat making his debut as youngest-ever Test captain, took the final wicket of Nayeem to wrap up Bangladesh’s innings after Nabi gave a breakthrough in the first over of the day.
Nabi bowled Taijul without allowing him to add any run to his overnight 14 before finishing with 3-56 runs. Mosaddek Hossain was unbeaten on 48.
Bangladesh has never won while batting in the fourth innings of a Test match at Chattogram and with Afghanistan leading by 374 runs, we could be in for a historic finish to the Test match.