Chittagong: Mohammad Hafeez strolled unimpeded to a century, and Younis Khan got to within touching distance of one, as Pakistan subjected Bangladesh to a comprehensive lesson in crease-occupation. After the crash-and-burn madness of Bangladesh's batting on the first day, the action swung to the other extreme in the morning as Pakistan blunted the minimal threat posed by their opponents, before gradually moving out of their sight.
Despite it being the weekend, the home fans wisely chose to stay away as their side took a beating for the second day running. In conditions that stayed amiable for batting, Bangladesh had neither the skill nor the discipline to dent Pakistan's now customary Test-match resolve. The seamers, Shahadat Hossain and Rubel Hossain, bowled spells of ornamental value, but the spinners - Elias Sunny and Mahmudullah, in particular - tested the rougher patches on the pitch with flight and rip. However, their impact was minimal against a line-up well-versed in the art of milking spin.
Hafeez began where he left off on the first evening, as did the unimpressive Shahadat. The first two balls of the day drifted into Hafeez's pads, and he duly glanced and clipped to take Pakistan into the lead. Mahmudullah resumed his overnight battle with Taufeeq Umar from the other end, and persevered with loop and turn. Having edged him several times while leaning out on the first evening, Taufeeq chose to play Mahmudullah off the back foot as much as possible. More than once, he left alone balls alarmingly close to offstump, and looked at his most vulnerable when reaching out. Hafeez stayed put to defend a series of length balls from Shahadat's end, and Bangladesh strung together five successive maidens. The dot-ball sequence put no pressure on Pakistan, though.
Hafeez resumed progress with a languid cover-driven boundary off Shahadat, but Taufeeq needed 23 balls to score his first run for the day. He even summoned the spirit to advance down the track and loft Mahmudullah for a straight four, but the bowler deservedly dislodged him after drinks. Having troubled him endlessly outside the off stump, he trapped him in front with a quick, flat offbreak.
Hafeez carried on as if he hadn't noticed his partner's struggles, steering Rubel Hossain past gully before threading Mahmudullah through the covers to bring up his fourth Test ton. His celebration was almost mechanical as he pulled off his helmet and kneeled down to perform the sajda, before breaking into a smile.
Azhar, usually known for his stodginess, was uncharacteristically edgy to start off. He seemed to try too hard to dominate the spinners, and repeatedly charged out of the crease. On one such instance, he barely cleared mid-on after stepping out to loft Elias Sunny. He was also beaten comprehensively by a huge spinner from Sunny, before being pegged on the back foot by an arm-ball that took a thin inside edge before hitting his pad. A couple of off-side boundaries suggested release, but Azhar's troubles continued until Shahadat got him to bottom edge a wide ball to the wicketkeeper.
Younis Khan walked in with his accumulation-mode turned on, and rolled into gear with a smooth cover drive off Sunny. Hafeez thumped a Rubel Hossain bouncer in the 80th over so effortlessly that Mushfiqur Rahim took the second new ball as soon as it was available. Younis should have been run out immediately, but Shahriar Nafees missed the stumps and the two fielders backing up comically let the ball escape for four overthrows. Shahadat kept bowling inexplicably short, without the pace or trajectory to back it up. Hafeez took him for fours on either side of the stumps before pulling uppishly to Sunny, who failed to get his hands to a tumbling chance at midwicket.
With the bowlers and the fielders looking helpless, Bangladesh needed assistance from the umpire Billy Doctrove to get a wicket. Hafeez inside edged a Sunny arm-ball onto his pad, but Doctrove adjudged him lbw - the sort of dismissal the DRS is designed to eliminate. Misbah-ul-Haq had a couple of scares early in his stay. He pulled his first ball straight at Nafees who had no chance of holding on at short leg. Misbah then edged a drive off Shahadat straight past Nafees at slip, who, like Sunny earlier, couldn't even manage to get a finger on it.
Like Hafeez, Misbah too couldn't capitalise on his reprieve. He missed a loopy Sunny full toss on off stump, to be caught plumb in front. The loss of his favoured partner in defence seemed to ignite a spark of aggression in Younis, and he dispatched Shakib through point, cover and fine-leg to reach his fifty. He then skated out of the crease to dump him for a straight six, in the process chugging past 6000 Test runs, as Bangladeshi shoulders began to slump in unison. It was the moment Pakistan were waiting for, after milking their way to 163 runs in the first two sessions.
Sensing the slackening intensity, Asad Shafiq kicked off by heaving Sunny over extra cover, and launching Shakib straight for sixes. Suddenly, Bangladesh were forced to do away with their catchers. That didn't stop the run-flow, though, as both batsmen swept and steered efficiently to pick up boundaries. With stumps approaching fast, Younis made a concerted dash towards his ton, slamming Mohammad Ashraful straight and slapping Shakib to midwicket for boundaries to reach 96. Shafiq couldn't give him the strike in the day's final over, though, but Younis didn't seem too perturbed.