Younus Khan and Azhar Ali both smashed centuries as Pakistan grabbed the early advantage on day one of the second Test against Bangladesh at Mirpur.
It was a first hundred since November last year for Younus, who plundered 11 fours and three sixes in his innings before falling in the 85th over just two short of a 150.
Meanwhile, Azhar finished unbeaten on 127 at stumps, with the duo’s 250-run stand taking Pakistan clear of some early trouble, and helping them reach the close of play on 323 for three.
Following a drawn first Test in Khulna, Pakistan are aiming to clinch a first series win on this tour of Bangladesh, with the hosts having won the one-day international and Twenty20 editions already.
It did not start well for Bangladesh, who won the toss but lost frontline bowler Shahadat Hossain to injury two balls into the very first over of the day.
However, Mohammad Shahid countered from the other end to have Mohammad Hafeez – a double-centurion from the first Test – caught behind for just eight.
Shahid then thought he had Azhar caught at slip for his second wicket, but a front-foot no-ball provided a reprieve for the batsman, though Sami Aslam did not last too long, with the returning Shahadat taking a catch off Taijul Islam’s bowling.
At 58 for two, Pakistan needed to dig in and Azhar and Younus steered them safely to lunch with a further 12 runs.
Both batsman were largely content with singles, though Younus was scoring at a faster rate than his partners, reaching a half-century in the middle session not long after Azhar did.
With Shahadat having injured himself again during a lunch-break net session, Bangladesh were soon running out of ideas with the ball, with Younus again accelerating and keeping pace with Azhar.
#BANvPAK 2nd Test Day 1: Shahadat Hossain has suffered a twisted right knee, is under observation. Will not bowl in the Test perhaps!
— Bangladesh Cricket (@BCBtigers) May 6, 2015
Scoring at above four-an-over, both batsmen took the total to 196 for two by tea and the run of big individual scores from this series continued, as did Bangaldesh’s penchant for missed chances.
Soumya Sarkar had a similar story to Shahid, when a no-ball denied him Younus’ wicket in the second over after tea, and the right-hander capitalised by overtaking Azhar to reach a 29th Test hundred in 142 balls.
Younus’ last century had come in the series in Abu Dhabi against New Zealand in early November, and today’s innings will be very much welcome for the dependable batsman following a below-par World Cup.
Azhar traversed the nineties in 13 balls, and it was not until Bangladesh took the new ball that the long-awaited breakthrough came, with Younus slicing Shahid to gully where Shuvagata Hom snapped a catch on the second attempt.
The damage had clearly been done with the 250-run stand, and it was left to skipper Misbah-ul-Haq – who got off the mark with a six – and Azhar to see them through until stumps.
250 – Azhar Ali’s & Younis Khan’s stand of 250 is Pakistan’s 8th highest 3rd wicket partnership in Test history. Belligerent.
— OptaJim (@OptaJim) May 6, 2015
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