KHULNA - M Hafeez hit a career-best 224 as Pakistan took charge of the first Test against Bangladesh with an impressive batting marathon during the third day's play in Khulna on Thursday.

The tourists batted the entire day to move from their overnight score of 227 for one to 537 for five by stumps, a lead of 205 runs over Bangladesh's first innings total of 332. Hafeez, who started the day on 137, surpassed his previous best of 197, made in Pakistan's previous Test against New Zealand in Sharjah last November. The 34-year-old all-rounder hit 23 boundaries and three sixes before being dismissed just before tea, gloving a sweep off Shuvagata Hom to M Mahmudullah at leg-slip.

Hafeez, who had fallen in the 190s on two previous occasions, moved to 198 with a fluent straight-driven four off seamer Mohammad Shahid and then reached his double century with a sweep off Taijul Islam for two runs. Hafeez said he was relieved to overcome the poor form that had dogged him in the preceding one-day series which Pakistan lost 3-0. "I was under pressure and I knew I had to do something to regain my confidence," the 41-Test veteran said. "The team needed a positive innings and I am happy that I was able to provide that. "I am not sure if this was my best innings, but a double hundred is always special for any batsman in the world."

The dominant batting display, in which Pakistan's top seven batsmen were all involved in partnerships of above 50, left the tourists two days to force a win and take the lead in the short two-Test series. Azhar Ali carried his overnight score of 65 to 83 when he was bowled by off-spinner Shuvagata to end a 227-run partnership for the second wicket with Hafeez.

That was Bangladesh's only success in the morning session as veteran Younis Khan joined hands with Hafeez to add 62 for the third wicket before he was bowled by Taijul for 33. Skipper Misbah-ul Haq put on 63 for the fourth wicket with Hafeez and 66 for the fifth with Asad Shafiq, himself scoring 59 with the help of four boundaries and two sixes. Misbah also fell to left-arm spinner Taijul, top-edging a sweep to backward square-leg where Rubel Hossain took the catch.

At stumps, Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed were both unbeaten on 51, having put on 69 for the unbroken sixth wicket. Bangladesh took the field without captain and wicket-keeper Mushfiqur Rahim, who had injured a finger while attempting to take a catch on the second day. Imrul Kayes kept wickets and the captaincy was handed to Tamim Iqbal, whose review for a leg-before appeal when Hafeez was on 173 was turned down by both the on-field and TV umpires.

Bangladesh used eight bowlers on the slow pitch at the Sheikh Abu Naser stadium, the most expensive being star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, whose 31 wicketless overs of left-arm spin cost 122 runs. Taijul picked up three wickets and Shuvagata claimed the other two. Shuvagata said Bangladesh can emerge unscathed from the Test. "I think we can still save this game," he said. "I am not sure how long Pakistan will bat. But we have a good batting line-up as well. "If we bat well in the second innings, saving the match is still possible."

The second and final Test will start at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in Dhaka on May 6.




(OVERNIGHT: 227-1)

Hafeez c Mahmudullah b Shuvagata    224

Sami Aslam c Rahim b Taijul    20

Azhar Ali b Shuvagata    83

Younis Khan b Taijul    33

Misbah-ul Haq c Rubel b Taijul    59

Asad Shafiq not out    51

Sarfraz Ahmed not out    51

EXTRAS: (b5, lb4, w3, nb4)    16

TOTAL: (for 5 wckts, 148 overs)    537

FOW: 1-50, 2-277, 3-339, 4-402, 5-468

BOWLING: Rubel 22-3-82-0, Shahid 17-4-51-0, Taijul 36-3-116-3, Shuvagata 32-1-112-2, Shakib 31-3-122-0, Mahmudullah 4-0-30-0, Soumya 1-0-2-0, Mominul 5-0-13-0.

TOSS: Bangladesh

UMPIRES: Nigel Llong and Ranmore Martinesz

TV UMPIRE: Paul Reiffel (AUS)