Afridi strikes twice as Bangladesh reaches 95-3 against Pakistan

RAWALPINDI, PAKISTAN (AP) — Pakistan’s pace bowlers struck early to leave Bangladesh struggling at 95-3 on the first day of the first test yesterday.

Shaheen Afridi (2-30) had 21-year-old debutant Saif Hassan caught in the slips for no score off his third delivery and then broke a half-century stand when the left-arm fast bowler switched ends and had Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque (30) caught behind.

Najmul Hossain Shanto, playing his first test since November 2018, was unbeaten on 44 with six fours while experienced Mahmudullah was not out on 17 in an extended two-and-a-half hours opening session.

Pakistan fast bowlers exploited a tinge of grass on the wicket at the Pindi Cricket Stadium after captain Azhar Ali won the toss and opted to field.

The visitors ran into early trouble against Pakistan pace bowlers and after Afridi’s early strike, Mohammad Abbas successfully went for leg before wicket referral against Tamim Iqbal in the second over but Nigel Llong overturned a confident appeal.

Tamim, who scored a triple century in domestic first-class game last week, scored only three in his comeback test match after the lefthander missed Bangladesh’s last test series against India.

Abbas bowled two tidy spells in the first session and gave away only seven runs in his 10 overs for the key wicket of Tamim.

Mominul and Najmul played resolutely after two early setbacks and just when they looked to carry Bangladesh’s fightback, Afridi broke the 59-run third-wicket partnership.

Mominul hit five that included two on driven fours in Afridi’s one over before the leftarmer induced a thin edge of Bangladesh skipper’s bat.

Pakistan retained the same playing XI which won by 263 runs against Sri Lanka at Karachi in last December which meant no place for allrounders Bilal Asif and Faheem Ashraf.

Bangladesh also went with three fast bowlers: Rubel Hossian, Abu Jayed and Ebadot Hossain.

Pakistan’s pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi (2nd R) celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Bangladesh’s Mominul Haque during the first day of the first cricket Test match. PHOTO: AFP