Friday, January 18, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, June 01, 2004
Day 4 Verdict: Fall from Grace

Zunaid Kazi

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.

Mushfiqur Rahman

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 (2-21)
  • 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.