Abid Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi lead the way as Pakistan go 1-0 up against Bangladesh

On Monday evening, Pakistan made light work of what appeared to be a difficult goal, reaching 203 for the loss of only the first two wickets. The bulk of the work was done by Abid Ali and Abdullah Shafique, who followed up their 146-run first-innings partnership with a 151-run second-innings stand. When Taijul Islam trapped him in front nine short of the three-figure mark, Abid was unfortunate not to reach two hundred in a Test, but Pakistan only needed 22 to win, which Babar Azam and Azhar Ali easily achieved.

Pakistan started the day with a score of 109 for no wicket, but the chase didn’t appear to be as simple as that number suggested. Pakistan lost nine wickets for 111 runs in the first innings, thus Bangladesh would have known that early wickets in the top order may put the middle order to the test. Abid and Shafique, on the other hand, made sure they didn’t repeat the mistakes of day three by refusing to allow Bangladesh to gain an early wicket, cautiously seeing out the first few overs before pursuing them.

Pakistan made their move in the 39th over, with Taijul bowling to Abid. Before executing a long hop, the batter skipped down the wicket to lash Bangladesh’s greatest bowler past midwicket. With a punch through cover, he made it three in a row, and Pakistan was on their way. Shafique was a little quieter, but he managed to pick up a couple of boundaries to keep the runs going. He missed a sweep that was destined to flick off stump just after the 150-run partnership was brought up, bringing an end to Pakistan’s opening partnership and a dream start for the 22-year-old.

Abid pressed on, edging closer to his second century of the Test. The game’s danger had been drained away by now, and the runs were pouring effortlessly. However, Taijul guaranteed that he would once again have the final laugh over Abid, culminating in a brilliant individual fight by the Bangladeshi left-arm orthodox bowler. Bangladesh was equally gracious in its farewell to him as Pakistan had been to Liton Das. This was a game played in the late November sunshine amid considerable warmth between two sides that have had tense relationships on occasion.

The target had become a formality at this point. If Taijul had latched on to a crisp return catch, he may have picked up Babar’s prized wicket, but it was about the last moment of excitement Bangladesh enjoyed in this Test. Azhar, who was out of form, took advantage of the opportunity to get some runs under his belt. He was even reverse sweeping behind point for four before concluding with a swipe behind the fine leg to complete the victory before the pursuit was even over.

Pakistan takes a 1-0 lead in the series and, more crucially, climbs to second place on the World Test Championship table in a cycle where they have a good chance of finishing in the top two.