Nasir unfazed by survival challenge
Bangladesh were nearly out of the contest when the sun finally made its appearance on the third evening of the Mirpur Test. By the end of the day's play, they were behind New Zealand by 137 runs. Survival has become their only option in the two full days remaining in the match, but it is a task they have not been too successful at in the Shere Bangla National Stadium.
The mind goes back to some of the recent failures when faced with survival in the second innings. It has happened at least once every year for the past six years except in 2009. But their arrival at the recurring scenario this time was due to their inability to capitalise after getting the big wicket of Ross Taylor early.
The wicket of Taylor in the fourth over of the morning was half the job done, if Shakib Al Hasan's statement from the second evening was anything to go by. They were targeting Taylor and Kane Williamson, but were blindsided by Corey Anderson's century. New Zealand's lower order had already showed what they are capable of in Chittagong with Trent Boult and BJ Watling putting on a big stand. This time, Watling was joined by No. 10 Ish Sodhi, and the pair have added 84 for the unbroken ninth wicket stand.
On the face of it, that last partnership sapped the remaining energy from the Bangladesh bowlers who lost their rhythm. But in their assessment later on, there was plenty of confidence.
"We have to bowl them out first," Nasir Hossain said. "We have to keep them within a 160-run lead. If we then score around 300 or 350 in the second innings, we have a chance to win the Test match. If we can bat long, we can force a draw. We have two days left but because this is Test cricket, there are changes in the tone of the game every session."
Nasir also hoped that the wicket remained as good as it has played the first three days. "They have only one spinner so if the sun is out, we will be in an advantageous position. They have four seamers, so the wicket is still fresh because it has been under covers.
"Pressure is quite natural, nothing comes easy at this level. We have to bat well in the second innings. We have to avoid the mistakes that we made in the first innings."
But the past doesn't inspire such confidence. Out of the nine previous Tests at this venue, on eight occasions Bangladesh have been defeated. Their chase against West Indies last year went bust when they were bowled out for 167 chasing 245. The most irresponsible of those third or fourth innings failures was the one against West Indies in 2011.
Most of the Bangladesh batsmen will have to curb their natural aggressive instincts, something that has caused their downfall in each of those eight past occasions. Nasir was buoyant about this team's chances but no one took him seriously.
When asked whether he would change his batting style in the second innings given the difficult state Bangladesh are in, Nasir countered, "How can you be sure we will even lose five wickets?" drawing laughter from the room.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here