Scoring 146 by Najmul Hossain Shanto shows Bangladesh’s superiority

Upon reaching his century, Najmul Hossain Shanto gives thanks to the gods

Bangladesh had a high-scoring opening day in the one-off Test against Afghanistan in Dhaka because Najmul Hossain Shanto aggressive 146, which was also his first Test century at home. 

The hosts reached 362 for 5 at the time of stumps thanks in large part to Shanto’s 146, his third century overall and first since 2021. Only the 374 that Bangladesh scored against Sri Lanka in Chattogram in 2018 was more than this total for Bangladesh on the first day of a Test.

At the end of the game, Bangladesh had lost 3 for 34 in a small middle-order collapse from 256 for 2, but Mushfiqur Rahim and Mehidy Hasan Miraz were still unbeaten on 41 and 43, respectively. 

That was after Shanto and Mahmudul Hasan Joy had put up 212 for the second wicket, the only other second-wicket stand for Bangladesh to surpass 200 runs. Shanto had, incidentally, participated in each of their previous four partnerships for this wicket that lasted over 100 minutes.

In place of him, Mahmudul added a solid 76 of his own on Wednesday. However, his innings was cut short when he lost focus when playing part-timer Rahmat Shah. In what would turn out to be a miserable day for Afghanistan, who bowled 15 no-balls – one of which saw Shanto get bowled on 143 – and seven wides on the day, in addition to frequently misfielding and overthrowing, that destroyed his partnership with Shanto. Only 79 overs were bowled on the day, which may have been influenced by the heat.

Set limits was how Shanto began the third session, just as he had the first two. In the 51st over, he struck two bouncers from youngster Nijat Masood for a four and a six, but two overs later, the spinner responded with Mominul Haque‘s wicket. Before the delivery was determined to be a no-ball in the 55th over, Masood had Shanto chopping on to his stumps.

Fortunately for Afghanistan, Shanto could only add three more runs to his total before being caught by Amir Hamza at deep midwicket. Only 175 balls were used in Shanto’s 146-run innings, which featured 23 fours and two sixes. 

Though Bangladesh’s dominance started as Shanto was at the crease in the second over of the innings, Mushfiqur and Mehidy’s partnership was undefeated at 72 at the end of the day.

When Zakir Hasan was defeated by a ball that jagged away sharply and took the outside edge on its way to wicketkeeper Afsar Zazai, Masood had claimed a wicket with his first ball in his Test career. Masood was the first bowler from Afghanistan to strike first in a Test match and the eighth bowler overall in the 21st century to do so.

But inside the first hour, Shanto had already launched an assault of defenses. Even as left-arm wrist spinner Zahir Khan was warmly received with three fours in his first spell, he rarely offered fast bowlers Masood and Yamin Ahmadzai any room to chill out. Mahmudul held up one end during the first session as an enterprising Shanto reached his fifty.

After lunch, Shanto picked up the pace even further, scoring a flurry of more scores to complete his third century. Shanto began the second session with three fours in the same over off Masood, following his morning 11 fours. Twice, he hit him through the sheets, and once, he pulled. Karim Janat was then driven down the ground by Hamza after two more fours from him in the following over.

Before Shanto achieved his hundred, Mahmudul, who benefited from the five runs that resulted from an overthrow, reached his fifty in the 35th over. Shanto quickly singled his way to his century three overs later.

With nine fours smashed through cover and mid-off, Shanto’s innings included a majority of down-the-ground boundaries. Both of his sixes were blasted over square leg, while seven of his fours were sent through midwicket. The fact that Afghanistan bowled him so poorly had a lot to do with his high scoring on the leg side.

The covers and midwicket were where Mahmudul liked to hit the ball. Before the tea break, as Ibrahim Zadran suffered a stunning slip, he fell to Rahmat.