The pair added an unbeaten 91 for the third wicket before the entire third session was called off due to bad light
Stumps Pakistan 161 for 2 (Babar 60*, Azhar 36*, Taijul 2-49) vs Bangladesh
The morning session was one of two halves as Pakistan made steady progress in the first hour, only for Bangladesh’s spinners to strike back in the second. On an overcast day in Dhaka, where Pakistan opted to bat first, openers Abid Ali and Abdullah Shafique eased to their third successive fifty partnership. This time, however, they could not convert it to three figures, thanks to probing spells from Taijul Islam and Shakib Al Hasan. Taijul was the man to take both wickets, knocking back the openers’ stumps as Pakistan, who had been going along at almost four runs per over for much of the first hour, scratched their way to 78 for 2 at lunch.
Pakistan had appeared untroubled against the fast bowlers to start off, with the overcast conditions not accompanied by the sideways movement Bangladesh’s pacers might have hoped those weather conditions brought. Unlike in Chattogram, where Abid and Shafique were perhaps guilty of being too passive in terms of the scoring rate, the pair pushed ahead more forcefully, regularly putting away poor deliveries, refusing to let Ebadot Hossain and Khaled Ahmed settle.
It was unsurprising to see Taijul introduced after just ten overs, but even with spin operating, Pakistan’s openers refused to be bogged down initially. Shafique pulled Taijul away over square leg off just his fourth delivery, while Abid clipped Shakib through the leg side next over. The shot of the morning was when Shafique skipped down the ground to gracefully deposit Taijul over long-off for a glorious six to bring up the fifty partnership, but around that time, the momentum was subtly beginning to shift.
The next 25 balls saw only six runs scored, and off the 26th, Bangladesh had their man. Taijul landed one on a length that lured Shafique into the forward press to play for the spin, but the ball carried on with the arm and pierced through the gap and into the stumps. The first ball to Azhar Ali tested him similarly, even if it didn’t get his wicket, and Bangladesh were suddenly prowling.
With the spinners stifling Pakistan and every run a battle, Abid saw his defences breached, too. As with Shafique, he failed to read the arm ball, bringing his bat down on one a shade too late, to find he had chopped it on.
The skies remained dark and overcast after lunch, and the second session began with real optimism for the home side. With Azhar Ali struggling to cope with the bounce and turn, and Babar in a relatively indifferent patch of red-ball form by his standards, Bangladesh will have sniffed a chance to expose a suddenly fragile middle order.
It wasn’t to be, though. After Azhar and Babar steeled out the best part of an hour, the rains arrived. The 25-minute break appeared to sap momentum from the home side, and Babar’s fluency was on full display thereafter. Khaled Ahmed had the chance to hold on to a difficult chance on the boundary when Babar took the aerial route, but that was spurned and the batter followed up with a more authoritative pull towards midwicket.
Azhar Ali swept Mehidy for a boundary next over, and a little clip to fine leg brought Babar Azam his half-century thereafter. Bangladesh continued to probe, Shakib in particular flighting the ball in search of grip, but Pakistan had begun to take over by now.
But so had the clouds after tea. The umpires deemed it too dark for play to continue, meaning no further play was possible. The next four days will have early starts, though with rain expected to be a factor over much of the weekend, how much play is possible remains to be seen.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000