Shanto and Mominul centuries set massive 662-run target for Afghanistan
Bangladesh is firmly in control of the Test match against Afghanistan after an exceptional display with the bat. Led by Najmul Hossain Shanto and Mominul Haque, Bangladesh set a target of 662 runs for Afghanistan, the highest in their Test cricket history. The Afghan team faced a challenging task and suffered a setback when their captain, Hashmatullah Shahidi, was forced to retire hurt after being hit on the helmet by a bouncer from Taskin Ahmed.
The dominance of Bangladesh in this match was evident as they piled on the runs. Shanto showcased his batting prowess, scoring his second century of the Test match with an impressive 124 off 151 balls. Mominul Haque also joined the century club, finishing unbeaten on 121 off 145 deliveries. The decision to set such a mammoth target was premeditated, with head coach Chandika Hathurusinghe expressing their intention to bat all the way through the innings. Although some expected a declaration after Mominul reached his hundred, the team chose to grind down Afghanistan instead.
Afghanistan’s pursuit of the monumental target got off to a rocky start as Shoriful Islam dismissed Ibrahim Zadran for a golden duck, trapping him lbw. The DRS review confirmed the dismissal, leaving Afghanistan in early trouble. Taskin Ahmed then struck, claiming the wicket of Abdul Malik who was caught behind for 5. The situation worsened when Hashmatullah Shahidi suffered a blow to the head from Taskin’s bouncer and had to leave the field. Despite walking off the ground with assistance, it was a concerning moment, highlighting the risks faced by batsmen in the game.
In Bangladesh’s second innings, it was a day of waiting for milestones and the eventual declaration. Shanto, Mominul, Zakir Hasan (71), and Litton Das (66*) all contributed to a formidable total of 425 for 4. This commanding lead of 661 runs is Bangladesh’s largest after batting two innings, surpassing their previous best of 476 against Zimbabwe in 2021.
The partnership between Shanto and Zakir was particularly noteworthy, as they added 173 runs for the second wicket. It marked the first time that Bangladesh had two 100-plus stands for the second wicket in a Test match. In the first innings, Shanto and Joy had also achieved a remarkable 212-run partnership.
Zakir was dismissed on 71 when a relayed throw found him short of the striker’s end. Shanto and Mominul continued their impressive form, adding 83 runs for the third wicket. Shanto reached his century during this partnership, taking 115 balls to reach the milestone. His primary scoring areas were through the covers and midwicket.
Bangladesh’s dominant performance with the bat has put them in a commanding position in the Test match. The sizeable target of 662 runs will pose a significant challenge for Afghanistan as they aim to salvage the match. Meanwhile, Bangladesh can take pride in their remarkable batting display, which has not only given them a strong chance of victory but also highlighted the depth and talent within their team.