4 wickets in 4 overs and a Bangladesh team on top of the world came crashing
down to earth. All the good work of the previous days was undone when the old
Bangladesh team came a calling with their customary 2nd innings collapse. The
chances for a momentous Test win are now slim to none, and slim just left town.
Perhaps, I lie. Slim may not have yet left but is definitely packing his bags.
Yes, Bangladesh is in a perilous position but with some solid rearguard action,
this Test can be saved and even won.
As usual, rain again delayed the start for about 2 ? hours. The Bangladesh
team gave a more disciplined effort on the field with no signs of butter fingers.
They toiled hard, bowled and fielded with discipline. Gayle and Jacobs held
their own until Tapas Baisya finally made the critical breakthrough and had
him caught at slip. This left Jacobs; the only remaining recognized batsmen,
and the parade of pacers none of whom have much of a reputation with the bat.
As Jacobs looked on, Bangladesh first innings hero Mohammad Rafique bowled out
Tino Best, and after tea, Mushfiqur Rahman cleaned up the rest of the tail in
three consecutive overs to achieve his best Test figures of 4 for 65. It was
a fine knock by Gayle ? his fifth test 100, a 7-? hour effort facing
293 balls, brought some semblance of respectability to the West Indies score.
And for only the third time in our brief Test history (4 years, 29 tries),
we achieved a first innings lead. This time, it was a useful one of 64 and Bangladeshi
fans had visions of a declaration and a historic win as the West Indies stumbles
chasing on a deteriorating pitch on day 5. Of course, the pessimists (they like
to call themselves realists) pointed to our past and our historic inability
to build solid 2nd innings scores and predicted all sorts of dire things. And
dire things did come to pass.
What is it about the Bangladesh team that we suddenly lose our way in the last
few sessions? What is it that causes our batsmen to lose their heads and make
the most harmless bowler achieve his career best figures (Sarwan, part-time
spinner, 8-2-22-3)? What is it that causes our batsmen to repeat the same mistake
over and over again?
Consider the following tragicomedy of errors:
- Hannan Sarker bowled by Fidel Edwards offering no shot, the same way he
was trapped LBW the very first ball of the first innings. Perhaps, I am being
a bit unfair here. Edwards managed to swing one in while all his previous
attempts had been swinging out. (1-17).
- Javed Omar gets caught with a flat-footed glance off of Collins soon after
- Habibul Bashar and Rajin Saleh seemed to have stopped the rot and took
the score to 70. And then, Bashar gave in to his usual proclivity for hooks
and pulls and tried to swat at a Tino Best delivery that kept low and was
bowled for 25. (3-70)
- The avalanche then started and this time it was Ramnaresh Sarwan who was
the beneficiary. Mohammad Ashraful returns a full toss back to Sarwan for
a thank you very much catch (4-73). Faisal Hossain gets caught at first slip
with a very loose swipe (5-76). Mushfiqur Rahman gives Sarwan an opportunity
for a hattrick (6-76) and Bangladesh are in all sorts of trouble.
While this was going on, Rajin Saleh had been playing very cool and collected
at the other end. Khaled Mashud joined him and these two kept their heads to
bat out the next 40 minutes. Lights were offered and gladly accepted and Bangladesh
lives to fight another day (6-94).
With a lead of 158, it is going to be a very interesting day tomorrow. If Bangladesh
can bat through to the end of the first session and manages to increase the
lead to 250 and above, the West Indies might yet stumble in the chase. The pitch
was showing signs of breaking up and chasing anything above 200 will be difficult
in the face of good slow bowling.
Rafique may have a chance to play the hero?s role again. Even the gentle
medium pace of Mushfiqur Rahman might come in very handy. And do remember that
Ashraful made it to the team initially as a leg-spinner who could also bat.
Of course, the Bangladesh innings might also be wrapped up fairly early and
the West Indies could well win in a canter. All possibilities, with differing
probabilities, are still on.
Slim is still packing.
I wrote about happy nights in my last Verdict piece. We are going to pass a
very restless night tonight.