Afghanistan were left standing on the verge of a famous Test win over Bangladesh after a rain-affected Day Four in the one-off clash between the two sides at Chattogram.
The hosts were left reeling at 136-6 in a daunting chase of 398 before another spell of rain brought an early end to proceedings on Sunday. It was skipper Rashid Khan who was once again the star with the ball for the visitors with the leg-spinner picking up three of the six Bangladesh wickets to fall.
Earlier in the morning, an unbeaten 48 from wicketkeeper Afsar Zazai has seen Afghanistan extend their second-innings total to 260 before they were bowled out for an overall lead of 397.
Bangladesh openers Liton Das and Shadman Islam started well in their final innings chase of 398 before Afghan spinner Zakir Khan struck twice in quick succession immediately after the lunch interval.
The left-armed wrist-spinner trapped Liton Das lbw before having Mosaddek Hossain caught at long-off to reduce Bangladesh to 52-2. Bangladesh stalwart Mushfiqur Rahim got off to a good start with the bat but the wicketkeeper batsman’s innings was cut short on 23 by the brilliant Rashid.
The fourth day of the one-off test between Afghanistan and @BCBtigers ended with Afghanistan needing four wickets and Bangladesh needing further 262 runs to win the match ending the day at 136/6 with the final day to go.#AFGvBAN@Farhan_YusEfzai pic.twitter.com/8jBOBFG0Gj— Afghanistan Cricket Board (@ACBofficials) September 8, 2019
The Afghan leg-spin sensation caught Mominul Haque plumb in front of the wicket soon after to tighten the screws on the hosts. At the other end, veteran Afghan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi ended opener Shadman Islam’s gritty 114-ball vigil to put the visitors firmly on top before Rashid grabbed a third wicket late in the day.
The Afghanistan skipper deceived Mahmudullah with a googly to reduce Bangladesh to 125-6 and he came mighty close to ending Shakib Al Hasan’s stay at the crease as well. Unfortunately for Rashid, he could not hold on to a sharp return catch off his own bowling to complete the Bangladesh captain’s dismissal.
Shakib remained unbeaten on 39 for Bangladesh when stumps were drawn at Chattogram and the Bangladesh skipper now holds the key for his side on the final day. While the Afghans are just four wickets away from wrapping up a historic win, they will be wary of the weather with further rain interruptions forecast for the final day of the one-off Test.
The ongoing Test has seen Rahmat Shah become the first-ever Afghan centurion in the format after the left-hander made 102 in the first-innings. Rashid, meanwhile, has led Afghanistan’s charge with the ball with the leg-spinner picking up a five-wicket haul in the first innings while also registering a vital half-century with the bat.
Should the Afghans be able to complete the job on Monday, it will be their second-ever win in the Test format in three appearances. They were handed a crushing defeat by India in their maiden Test last year before they beat Ireland at Dehradun earlier this year.
Afghanistan: 342 and 260
Bangladesh: 205 and 136-6
Shadman Islam: 41
Rashid Khan: 3-46
England find themselves in deep trouble at the start of day five of the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford and might find themselves needing yet another inspirational performance from Ben Stokes in the middle-order.
Pat Cummins removed Rory Burns and Joe Root in consecutive deliveries in the first over late on day four to leave the hosts reeling at 18/2 in the second innings.
England need 365 more runs to win and take an improbable 2-1 lead in the series and have eight wickets in hand.
Joe Denly and Jason Roy are currently at the crease and will look to frustrate the Aussie bowlers who dominated this Test match. Their resistance to the visitors’ pace attack will be crucial, if England hope to get back into the game.
Will Cummins build on his sensational opening or will the hosts script yet another come-back?
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England would have hoped that the Jofra Archer bouncer at Lord’s would prove to be a psychological blow for Steve Smith but the Australia batsman continues to make the 2019 Ashes his own with another splendid display with the bat on Saturday in Manchester.
The outstanding Aussie struck a 92-ball 82 in the second innings of the penultimate Test to put the visitors firmly in control of the Ashes with his match tally now standing at a staggering 293 runs.
England had made a roaring start with the ball in the second innings with four quick top-order wickets but there was once again no way past Smith’s bat with the Australia man batting with all the confidence in the world.
Here, we take a closer look at Smith’s second innings showing at Old Trafford which followed up the 211 he registered in the first innings.
SECOND INNINGS STATS
Deliveries faced: 92
As has been the case all series, Smith arrived at the crease much earlier than he would have wanted with both Australian openers falling cheaply once again. The subsequent dismissal of Marnus Labuschagne had reduced Australia to 44-4 but Smith once again proved to be a thorn in England’s flesh with his fifth 50-plus score of the series in as many innings.
The right-hander forged a vital 105-run stand for the fifth wicket alongside Matthew Wade where he was the dominant batsman by some distance. Smith ticked at nearly a run-a-ball and was looking good for his 26th Test ton before being caught on the boundary in his bid to loft a Jack Leach delivery for six.
And on he rolls... Steve Smith is the only player in the past 50 years to score 250 runs in an #Ashes Test in England. He's now done it three times.— Adam Burnett (@AdamBurnett09) September 7, 2019
Smith walked into bat when England had their tails up but he turned the tide instantly by taking the attack to the hosts. Having faced 319 deliveries for his double ton in the first-innings, Smith took no time to get settled at the crease and he was middling the ball from the very go on Saturday.
Recognising the need for Australia to score quick runs, Smith was at his free-flowing best at what was more of a one-day innings than a Test one. He was equally punishing against both pacers and spinners alike and showed particular disdain towards Archer by cracking some sumptuous boundaries on either side of the pitch.
Steve Smith's— CricBeat (@Cric_beat) September 7, 2019
Last 9 Innings In Ashes
239, 76, 102*, 83, 144, 142, 92, 211, 82
VERDICT – 9/10
Some Ashes the Australian batsman is having despite not having played any Test cricket for nearly 16 months prior to this trip. His tally in the current series has crept past 650 despite having to miss the Headingley Test and he continues to be England’s arch nemesis with his ninth consecutive score of above 76 against the opponents.
Such prolific numbers in Test cricket have not been seen since the time of Sir Don Bradman and the fact that this 82-run knock is his lowest in the series puts his incredible summer into context.
It has been the Ashes of Steve Smith by all definitions and it would actually be a tragedy if he does not walk away with the urn after this Herculean effort.
There have been a lot of superlatives for Steve Smith of late....add unselfish cricketer to that list 👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽 Could of easily have knocked it around to bring up yet another 💯 but the teams success more important #loveit— Lisa Sthalekar (@sthalekar93) September 7, 2019