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Tigers close in on big victory

It was another day of sheer domination and individual milestones with Bangladesh sensing a victory by the end of the third day’s play as Afghanistan prepare to resume the fourth day on 45 for two in chase of a record 662-run target in the lone Test at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.

The gloomy weather over the last hour of the day reflected the environment gripping the visiting dressing room, especially after skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi was struck on the helmet by a Taskin Ahmed bouncer and forced to leave ground in their second innings.

Shoriful Islam and Taskin provided early breakthroughs, removing Afghan openers Ibrahim Zadran and Abdul Malik respectively in the first two overs of the second innings.

Prior to that, it was Najmul Hossain Shanto who stole the show with his second century of the match, while Mominul Haque came to the fore with his first Test century in 26 months as the hosts batted till the first hour of the third session yesterday and racked up their highest target in Test cricket.

Shanto continued his brilliant form to notch up his fourth Test hundred, becoming only the second Bangladeshi batter to score centuries in both innings of a Test match after Mominul Haque.

However, he fell to bowling of Zahir Khan after scoring 124 off 151 deliveries and although many assumed the hosts would declare after Mominul reached his century, the Tigers kept grinding.

Bangladesh head coach Chandika Hathurusingha had said in a chat with broadcasters before the start of the third day that his side would bat for a long period, perhaps considering this as an ideal platform to give the batters some much-needed exposure in a Test.

Bangladesh eventually declared on 425 for four, with Mominul unbeaten on 121 off 145 balls, a knock that featured twelve fours and six, while Liton Das scored his maiden fifty as Test captain and was not out on 66.

Earlier, after resuming on 134 for one, Shanto and Zakir Hasan’s 173-run second-wicket stand came to an end after the latter was unfortunately run out after scoring 71 off 95 balls. Mushfiqur Rahim departed cheaply after scoring eight as he mistimed a reverse sweep before Mominul and Liton decided to work the Afghan bowlers to the breaking point.