Bangladesh openers Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes continued to pile on the agony for Pakistan’s bowlers on the final day as well as the Khulna Test ended in a predictable draw. A win for Pakistan had been thrown out of the window following two sessions of brilliant counter-attack by Iqbal and Kayes on day 4. They resumed their good work on the last day, going past the 300-run mark unseparated. The first wicket finally fell at the score of 312 when Kayes fell after passing 150. Iqbal went on to become the second Bangladesh batsman to cross 200, as Pakistan’s bowlers toiled away.
Kayes and Iqbal began slowly, scoring only six runs in the first five overs. Junaid Khan swung the ball. Kayes could have been lbw first ball but for an inside edge. Iqbal also had a close shave when a delivery hit him flush on the boot. But, both survived and carried on. In the same over, Kayes hit the first boundary of the day, and thus equalled the record for the highest opening stand in the second innings of a Test. Iqbal also got into boundary-hitting mode by crunching Yasir Shah through covers.
Even as Bangladesh gained the lead, the opening pair continued to dig in. They reached the 300 mark before the 70th over. A couple of overs later, Iqbal eased his way past 150, and was soon to be joined by Kayes. The partnership finally ended on 312 as Kayes was caught in the deep off Zulfiqar Babar’s bowling immediately after reaching 150. It was a knock which lasted 350 minutes and 240 balls, during which he hit 16 fours and 3 sixes. The opening pair had been separated after 75.4 overs.
While Kayes was back in the hut, Iqbal carried on, placing the ball around and picking up the runs on offer. He was determined on reaching the 200 mark. After a silent period, he progressed from 182 to 194 with consecutive sixes off Yasir Shah. Incredibly, in Virender Sehwag-style, he went from 194 to 200 with a six, smashing Junaid down the ground. He was eventually stumped for 206 off Mohammad Hafeez’s bowling, having hit 17 fours and 7 sixes. He was third man out with the score reading a menacing 399. Bangladesh lead too had progressed past 100.
Most of the other batsmen took the opportunity to get some quick runs with no pressure, even as Shakib Al Hasan applied a price tag to his wicket. He was unbeaten on 76 off 104 balls when the teams decided to settle for a draw. It is a knock that would be forgotten in the deluge of tributes for Iqbal and Kayes. Among others, Mahmudullah got 40, and Soumya Sarkar 33. Junaid and Hafeez were rewarded with two wickets each for their toil, but the match would undoubtedly be remembered for the Iqbal-Kayes show.
--By A Cricket Correspondent