Chittagong, Bangladesh (BBN)-Liton Das scored his first Test fifty and Shakib Al Hasan reached his highest Test score against South Africa, 47, as Bangladesh built a handy lead of 78 runs, which South Africa have started to chip away at.
The visiting side’s batsmen will have learnt from Shakib and Liton’s sixth-wicket stand of 82, which could yet prove decisive in the match, reports ESPNcricinfo.
That partnership began with Bangladesh 53 runs behind, after Dale Steyn had made his first incision of the series, and the balance could have been tipped either way.
South Africa could see their way into the tail but Shakib and Liton successfully blotted that out.
They frustrated Steyn – he searched for movement without success and resisted, resorting to the short ball until the end, when he picked up two more wickets to take his overall tally to 399 – and were patient against Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel’s disciplines.
Only Simon Harmer posed real problems, when he found turn, but Bangladesh’s batsmen were confident against him, especially as they could sense control had shifted to their side.
Bangladesh began the day energetically with Mushfiqur Rahim trying to get as many runs out of the old ball as possible, mainly off Steyn.
Just as Hashim Amla may have considered taking Steyn out of the attack to give him a break ahead of the new ball, he struck with a length ball that rapped Mushfiqur on the pads.
Umpire Joe Wilson was not convinced but South Africa asked for a review which revealed no inside edge and showed the ball was going on to hit middle stump.
The wicket was Steyn’s first in the innings and Amla kept Steyn on for one more over to see if he could get South Africa into the tail, but Liton’s defences held firm.
The new ball was taken after 81 overs, with Bangladesh 37 runs behind. Philander and Morkel shared it before Steyn was brought back after a brief break.
He had Harmer operating at the other end, which was Liton’s cue to attack.
Hos footwork and placement have been exceptional and it was fitting that he was also the man who put Bangladesh in front, with a pin-point drive down the ground off Steyn on the stroke of lunch.
More than anything, that shot illustrated Bangladesh’s dominance in this match so far.
JP Duminy made his first appearance with ball in hand, immediately after lunch.
Although the ball was only 13 overs old, Amla had his offspinners operating in tandem.
Shakib and Liton allowed themselves to have a little look and then took them on.
Both of them routinely dropped it short and invited the pull, which ultimately proved Shakib’s undoing.
With a half-century in sight, Shakib went for a glory shot off Harmer but top-edged to give Duminy a comfortable catch at short midwicket and leave Liton with the tail.
Mohammad Shahid offered strong support when he took off runs off Harmer’s next over, all in boundaries.
The first was a fortuitous outside edge; the next three meaty blows over mid-off, midwicket and straight down the ground.
His fun only lasted ten more deliveries. After belting Philander through cow corner, Shahid tried to slog but Stiaan van Zyl took a good catch at mid-wicket.
Liton was more cautious. in just his second Test, he showed maturity, rotated strike and, when he was aggressive, did it with class.
His cover drive off Morkel was the most elegant stroke across the two-and-a-half days of hard grind for either side.
There was nothing quite as stylish to bring up his half-century – it came with a singlematurity, rotated strike and, when he was aggressive, did it with class to the leg side off the 101st delivery he faced.
Later that same over, his innings ended. Liton was caught his crease by a sharp offbreak and inside edge onto his pad.
Quinton de Kock took the catch and broke the stumps at the same time and umpire Richard Kettleborough had to check for a clean catch, which replays showed it was.
South Africa could see the end when de Kock appealed for a caught behind off Taijul Islam off Morne Morkel but Umpire Wilson gave it not out.
South Africa reviewed but there was no evidence of an edge. The frustration reached a boiling point when Steyn was brought back and he finally banged it in short.
He hit Mustafizur on the helmet as a a warning, and then had Taijul Islam caught at gully and Mustafizur at point to put himself one away from the 400-club.
Before Steyn gets there, he will want a decent target to defend, which South Africa can only construct once they have gotten rid of the deficit.
Dean Elgar and Stiaan van Zyl begun doing that with an opening stand that remained intact at the interval.