Saturday, December 15, 2018
Updated: Monday, May 31, 2004
Day 3 Verdict: Advantage dropped but still on top

Zunaid Kazi

Like the innumerable balls that the fielders let slip through their fingers, Bangladesh let slip the distinct advantage they had held over the previous two days. The day dawned with Bangladeshi fans being able to engage in the hitherto unfamiliar pleasure of speculating about scenarios that might lead to Bangladesh?s first ever Test win. At the end of the day, while this astonishing outcome is still plausible, it is less so.

Finally, one that didn't get away
Chanderpaul is caught by Mashud

As usual, the rain continued to play a spoiler. Overnight rain and a damp outfield prevented an early start. Bangladesh resumed their innings, contrary to some speculations about an overnight declaration. Mohammad Rafiq and Tareq Aziz must have been given marching orders to whack the ball all around the beautiful Beausejour Stadium ? amass as many runs as they possibly can (after all this was the 9th and 11th player at crease) and further demoralize the West Indies. And Rafiq set about doing that. A magnificent 6 hoisted into the Great Western Stand off Sarwan clearly expressed his intentions. But alas, much more fireworks were not to be enjoyed by the Bangladesh fans as Pedro Collins finally ended Rafiq?s magnificent innings. In the end, his 111, which included 11 fours and 3 towering sixes, helped Bangladesh amass its highest ever innings total of 416.

The West Indies went quickly on the backfoot when they lost Devon Smith for duck in a ridiculous run-out. Sarwan and Gayle steadied the ship for a while ? with a lot of help from the Bangladesh fielders. Of the at least 9 dropped catches I counted during the day?s proceedings, 2 of those were gifted to Gayle on 24 and 28. He was given yet another life on 47 and made full use to end the day unbeaten on 110. He played a very uncharacteristically subdued innings; not quite his usual flamboyant self. Sarwan came and went with a useful 40 and in walked Lara.

Brian Charles Lara. A man who has been very much in the minds of Bangladeshi fans not just for his 400* but also for his whining about the ?placid? nature of the pitch. There was much merriment in ?knowledgable? cricket journalist circles as they speculated about whether Sir Lara would make 500* in this clash with the babes of Test cricket. More about the pitch later.

He came, flashed about for a breezy 53 in a stand of 73 for the third wicket with Gayle who looked very pedestrian during this time, and left just as quickly edging to Khaled Mashud off of Mushfiqur Rahman, much to the delight of Bangladesh fans. Chanderpaul soon departed and the West Indies were in trouble on a supposedly placid pitch with the score reading 183 for 4. Yes, did I mention the placid pitch? Had it not been for all the dropped catches, the West Indies score at the end of the day would have made nasty readings for West Indies fans and one Brian Charles Lara. In the end, these gifts enabled Gayle to reach an unbeaten 110* and Dwayne Smith to score 42 before he holed out to Aziz off of Rafique. Finally, a catch not dropped. Ridley Jacobs came on next but the day ended soon after much to the dismay of Bangladeshi fans when the umpires offered them the lights and the West Indies batsmen gladly marched off the field. There were some grumblings about this ? after all they were facing a spinner and a medium pacer.

With the West Indies at 262 for 5 and still 154 runs in arrears, the match seems keenly poised. There is still a distinct possibility of a Bangladesh win if not for some ifs. If the rain stops being a spoiler. If the Bangladeshi batsmen do not engage in their customary seconds innings collapse. If.

We may regret all those missed chances, but tonight we fans can still carry on the guilty pleasure of speculating about a Bangladesh win. Prior to this series, who would have thought we would have had so many good nights to dream.