Bangladesh v South Africa, 1st Test, Mirpur, 3rd day
Ashraful and Aftab partnership helps Bangladesh to fight back
February 23, 2008
314/5 (Ashraful 93, Aftab 86, Smith 2/28) trail South Africa
614/8 (Smith 159, Prince 110, Rafique 3/93) by 300 runs
Mohammad Ashraful and Aftab Ahmed hit big half centuries to give Bangladesh a glimmer of hope in saving the 1st test from Mirpur. Ashraful fell 7 short of a superb century, scoring 93 to lead from the front and put Bangladesh in a good position to save the game. Aftab Ahmed hit 86 in a partnership of 179, the 3rd highest Bangladesh partnership ever.
The day started with the news that Graeme Smith had decided to declare overnight. Out stepped Bangladeshi openers Shahriar Nafees and Junaid Siddique to face the new ball duo of Dale Steyn and Makhaya Ntini. Steyn struck in just the 7th over, finding the edge of Nafees' bat where Amla took a good low catch at 3rd slip. The very next over Ntini got the 2nd wicket, that of the other opener Siddique. A straight ball did for Siddique, playing all around it. Morne Mørkel got into the act to dismiss Rajin Saleh caught and bowled for 12.
The score at 41/3 and looking very precarious for Bangladesh, a strong partnership was needed, and boy did they get that. A brilliant stand of 179, Bangladesh's 3rd highest test match partnership, set them up for a good chance of grabbing a draw from the game. Ashraful reached his 8th half century in 87 deliveries. Aftab took 82 balls for his half century, Bangladesh making it to tea at 222/3. But South Africa came out after tea and took crucial wickets. Graeme Smith continued to bowl at one end and got his reward, removing his opposite number, Mohammad Ashraful, for 93. Six overs later he had his 2nd victim. Aftab finally our after 160 deliveries, caught by Amla for 86.
Just as it seemed Bangladesh may fall for under 350, up stepped wicketkeeper Mushfiqur Rahim and veteran spinner Mohammad Rafique. The two put on an unbeaten stand of 83 come the close of play. Rahim brought up his 50 in the penultimate over of the day to leave Bangladesh on 314/5 at the close. Graeme Smith was the pick of the South African bowlers picking up two wickets, and Steyn, Ntini and Mørkel all took 1 wicket each.
With Rahim and Rafique at the crease, if they get settled then Bangladesh could be looking at a score around 400. Although they will most likely be made to follow-on, another long innings could save them from a loss, which would be a huge boost for Bangladeshi cricket to see their side fight back so well.