Teenage fast bowler Naseem Shah became the youngest bowler to take a hat trick in test cricket and put Pakistan on the brink of victory in the first test against Bangladesh this morning.
The 16-year-old Naseem, who took 4-26, dismissed Najmul Hossain Shanto (38), nightwatchman Taijul Islam (0) and Mahmudullah (0) as Bangladesh limped to 126-6 in its second innings at stumps on the third day.
Bangladesh still trails by 86 with only four wickets in hand to avoid an innings defeat. Pakistan was dismissed for 445 in its first innings for a lead of 212 runs over Bangladesh's first-innings 233.
“I can't describe my feelings because the way the whole crowd backed me, it was really heartening," Naseem said about the 12,000 spectators cheering on the home team at Pindi Cricket Stadium.
“I think what I did today was just because my mother prays for me a lot. I did struggle in the first innings, but I knew I can perform if I bowled according to the plan."
Naseem, playing in only his fourth test match, dented Bangladeshi hopes of making a comeback in the last half-hour when he broke the threatening 71-run stand between Najmul and captain Mominul Haque, who was unbeaten on 37 at stumps.
Naseem went for a successful lbw referral against Najmul after umpire Nigel Llong turned down an appeal. He then immediately trapped Taijul lbw off a vicious yorker before Mahmudullah went for an ambitious drive and was caught in the second slip.
“I didn't appeal when I took the second wicket and ran away to celebrate because I knew it was plumb out," Naseem said about Taijul's dismissal.
Naseem went off the field in the next over after bowling two balls in his eighth over due to rib pain and did not take the field but by that time he had done enough damage to Bangladesh’s plans.
Bangladesh legspinner Alok Kapali held the previous record of the youngest player to achieve a hat trick in test cricket when he accomplished the feat at the age of 19 against Pakistan at Peshawar in 2003.
Tamim Iqbal (34), who had scored a triple century in a domestic first class match before arriving in Pakistan last week, fell in the second over from Yasir Shah (2-33) before Mominul and Najmul resisted with a gritty half-century stand.
But after Naseem’s burst of three wickets, Yasir pushed Bangladesh closer to the brink when Mohammad Mithun went for a reckless pull shot and was clean bowled without scoring in the last over of the day.
“It was an outstanding second spell by Naseem ... and I really enjoyed watching him bowling in the field,” Pakistan batsman Babar Azam said.
“The best thing about Naseem is that he bowls according to the plan and he’s learning fast.”
Naseem, who hit the headlines when he made his test debut against Australia at Brisbane last year, had given Pakistan a breakthrough when he had debutant Saif Hassan (16) clean bowled off a delivery that kept low.
Earlier, Haris Sohail’s counter-attacking 75 off 103 balls helped Pakistan stretch its lead past the 200-run mark after the home team resumed from its overnight 342-3.
Bangladesh seamers bowled to a much more disciplined line and length with the second new ball before Pakistan was bowled out an hour into the second session.
The three seamers - Abu Jayed (3-86), Rubel Hossain (3-113) and Ebadot Hossain (1-97) - shared the bulk of the wickets with the Pakistan lower order crumbling.
Haris hit seven fours and two sixes before he was the ninth batsmen to be dismissed when he holed out in the deep while attempting a big shot against the left-arm spin of Taijul, who finished with 2-139.
Bangladesh had hit back with four wickets in the first session as the hosts lost century-maker Babar Azam off Jayed’s first ball of the day before reaching 420-7 at lunch.
Rubel claimed the wickets of Mohammad Rizwan (10) and Yasir (5) in Bangladesh’s most productive session of the match as Pakistan could only add 78 runs.
Babar, who scored 143 off 193 balls and hit 18 fours and a six during his nearly 4 1/2 hours at the crease, was taken at first slip when caught in two minds whether to leave the ball or to cut the rightarm seamer Jayed.
Ebadot induced an inside edge off Asad Shafiq’s bat from a delivery that nipped back into the right-hander as Pakistan lost its two set batsmen within the first hour. Shafiq made 65 off 129 balls and hit nine fours and added 137 runs in a fourth-wicket stand with Babar.
Rubel, who was wicketless on the second day, finally got among the wickets when Rizwan mistimed a pull off a short delivery and top edged to fine leg.
Rubel then broke the 41-run seventh-wicket stand between Haris and Yasir Shah when he won an lbw referral before dismissing Shaheen Afridi, who was also trapped leg before wicket shortly after lunch.