Monday, December 10, 2018
Updated: Saturday, February 21, 2004
Hours Before The 4th Day

Masum Billah
Consider this scenario. It takes Heath Streak 15 minutes to wrap up Bangladesh Innings this morning. Zimbabwe goes into the second innings with a 100+ runs lead. They bat 'til tea to make 200 more. Then they send us in. There is nothing unusual in this expectation thus far, except for a bold move by Zimbabwe. Now what?

Let's say, we lose 2 quick wickets for 30 odd runs before the days play ends. Now, we have another uphill battle on the 5th day against the odds, under pressure. We just crumble for 150-170 more runs. This is not only probable, it is a quite possible scenario. In the first test against India, we scored 400 runs in the first innings, 91 in the second. Very recently, we remember the second test against Pakistan last year. 361 in the first innings, 96 in the second. It does not take much for us to go on to the back foot from an advantageous position.

How are our numbers in playing second or 4th innings? Not bad actually. 26 tests played, as we all know, we got to play both innings in every one of them. We scored 4,839 runs in the first innings, 4796 in the second. (There is one incomplete 2nd innings with the Zimbabwe draw previously). So there is not much of a run difference. A closer look: 15 of those times we scored more runs playing second or 4th innings. Not bad actually. We played 4th innings only twice, scored higher both times than our 2nd innings. I'm sure we all remember the wonderful fourth innings we played against Australia for 295 last year.

Considering the above, we may have a realistic chance for a draw this time. That is only if we play like our lives depended upon it. Yesterday, it was quite comforting to see players like Mushfiq, Rana and Masud coming out to bat in the lower order. We felt, for the first time in months that we could depend on these guys. Even Masud, the one that failed (6), made use of 19 deliveries and occupied the crease for 33 minutes. We have a better tail now.

On the other hand, we have a match of near misses: some good catches, 3 missed half centuries & one missed century. It would be unrealistic to expect Manjural to last the first hour this morning. We need to dictate the tempo of the game by slowing Zimbabwe down. Their moral can't be very high at the moment. After all, they could not bowl us out in a whole day, after boasting to "Dominate" us beforehand. We need to see their batsmen toil under good line and length deliveries, even if we don't get wickets. This effort has to be combined with good fielding. Let's cut that runrate. Let's push the Zimbabwe innings to the final day. Let's try & make sure they can't declare today. In other words, we should aim for a fighting draw. If it brings a win by any chance, all the better. Let's not have a near miss on the draw. Because that would be another defeat.