CHITTAGONG: Teenage debutant Mehedi Hasan claimed five wickets for 64 runs to stun England’s top order and give Bangladesh the upper hand in the first Test in Chittagong yesterday. Moeen Ali and Jonny Bairstow scored half-centuries each as England reached 258-7 at stumps on the first day, after skipper Alastair Cook elected to bat first at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury stadium. Moeen survived five reviews on his way to smashing 68 runs and Bairstow made 52 as England steadied against some superb bowling from Bangladesh’s spinners to post a respectable score.
Chris Woakes was 36 not out and Adil Rashid unbeaten on five. Experienced left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan finished the day with 2-46 to complement 18- year-old Mehedi, who became the seventh Bangladeshi bowler to take five wickets in his Test debut. “I never expected such a debut of this kind,” Mehedi said. “I thought that I would pick up two wickets and score 30 runs but what happened is something I will remember all my life.” Mehedi, named player of the tournament at the Under-19 World Cup earlier this year, made an immediate impression, bowling Ben Duckett for 14 before trapping Gary Ballance for one in his opening spell. Shakib removed Cook for just four, in a disappointing start for the skipper who became England’s most capped player with 134 Tests.
Mehedi opened the attack for the hosts, beating Duckett on several occasions before he spun one beautifully to hit the middle stump as soon as the England debutant offered some room. Three balls later Cook was also gone, attempting a sweep shot off Shakib only for the ball to hit him on the forearm and then the body before smashing onto the stumps. Ballance was initially given not out lbw, but Bangladesh reviewed the decision in their favor, with the replay showing the ball had struck his pad on the back foot first before touching the bat.
Moeen survives reviews
Moeen was given out three times by umpire Kumar Dharmasena but his decisions were overturned on each occasion. He was given out on 17 off Shakib before lunch-and then twice on the same score, in the first over after the break, off the same bowler. Two separate reviews from Bangladesh also failed. Mehedi struck soon after Shakib’s eventful over by removing Joe Root for 40. Root had looked in good touch until he edged one that took a deflection off wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim’s gloves before being grabbed by Sabbir Rahman at slip.
Shakib then bowled Ben Stokes (18) for his second wicket, but Bairstow joined Moeen for a 88-run sixth wicket partnership to revive England’s innings. Moeen, who hit eight fours and a six in his 170- ball knock, was finally dismissed when Mehedi beat him with a turn to induce an edge that Rahim gladly accepted. Mehedi bowled Bairstow to complete his five-wicket haul shortly after the England wicketkeeper-batsman brought up his 11th Test fifty, a composed innings that featured eight fours.
“Not bad on a day after losing three wickets very early. It was pretty tough but in the end we are pretty happy,” said Moeen. “Definitely I did not think it would spin so much as it did today,” he added. England have included Gareth Batty in the side, giving the Surrey captain his first national cap in more than 11 years, while Bangladesh have handed batsman Sabbir his debut. — AFP