Naeem, Shakib make it Bangladesh's day
Bangladesh 455 for 6 (Naeem 108, Shakib 89, Tamim 72, Rampaul 3-101) trail West Indies 527 for 4 dec by 72 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
To think that five of the six Bangladesh batsmen to fall gave their wickets away, and the home side were still on course to go past their highest Test total of 488. It left you wondering what would have been had they not. It was still Bangladesh's day in the end. They scored 291 runs for the loss of just three wickets, one of them being Naeem Islam, who made an emotional maiden Test century, and one being Shakib Al Hasan, who threw away what would have been his third. Naeem and Shakib batted through the first session and put on 167, which is the highest for the fourth wicket by a Bangladesh pair.
Naeem batted the old-fashioned way - he gave the first hour of the day to the West Indies bowlers and by tea, he had constructed his hundred. Naeem's effort, and his partnerships with Shakib and Mushfiqur Rahim carried Bangladesh comfortably past the follow-on mark of 328, and even raised hopes of taking a lead, which would certainly be a huge achievement for a side playing its first Test in a year. Mahmudullah and Nasir Hossain kept those hopes alive with a sensible unbroken 87-run partnership after West Indies had dismissed Naeem and Mushfiqur in quick succession after tea.
Naeem's knock stood out not only for its resolve but also for what Bangladesh have often missed - a solid foil to the genius of Tamim Iqbal and Shakib. On day two, Shahriar Nafees, instead of 'doing a Naeem', had tried to match Tamim stroke for outrageous stroke, and had perished soon. Today, as Shakib went about tackling the West Indies attack in his own way, Naeem ensured the pyrotechnics were limited to one end, as he defended and left with purpose.
Naeem faced 50 deliveries for eight runs till the first drinks break, and took 27 off 47 in the next hour, and scored 40 off 71 in the second session. At the other end, Shakib prospered through a mixture of fortune and attack before ultimately perishing to an overdose of the latter eleven runs shy of a hundred.
Shakib rode his fortune in the morning to keep the runs flowing. He was caught behind off a no-ball and came close to getting dismissed a few times, all against Ravi Rampaul, but survived, and then thrived. Rampaul got consistent bounce from short of a good length, and had Shakib in trouble. He beat Shakib outside off stump, had him edging just short of gully and a half-hearted top-edged pull fell at vacant square leg. In between, Rampaul pushed Shakib back with sharp bouncers. Shakib tried to hit out, and edged a follow-up wide delivery to the wicketkeeper in the 43rd over, but replays showed Rampaul had overstepped. That was to be the closest West Indies came all morning to breaking through.
Despite the close shaves, Shakib hardly held back. The accurate debutant Veerasammy Permaul was slog-swept for boundaries. The fast bowlers were driven through cover. Naeem changed character after the first hour. He swept the third ball after drinks from Permaul for four. Darren Sammy was squeezed behind point for consecutive fours. He responded by beating Naeem twice in his next over, but the batsman ended Bangladesh's session on a high by steering Sammy to the third-man rope. Eighty-eight runs without a wicket in the first session - Bangladesh could have hardly hoped for a better start today.
It was to get better indeed after lunch, for a while at least. Shakib calmly drove the first ball after the break, from Sunil Narine, through extra cover for four. Narine wasn't able to create any impact, and was hit out of the attack next over by Shakib with consecutive boundaries. Rampaul now returned to finally get his due. With the attack at his mercy and a century beckoning, Shakib walked out and mis-hit Rampaul to extra cover to walk off with an angry swish of his bat.
Rampaul now tested Naeem and Mushfiqur as he moved the old ball in at sharp pace, and Sammy created further problems by taking it away off the seam. It was the first time seamers were operating from either end today. Mushfiqur escaped with an edged boundary past the slip cordon, but recovered to clip Sammy off his pads through midwicket for four more.
The new ball, taken in the 83rd over, did not do as much as the old one had, and Mushfiqur capitalised with a few punchy fours. Naeem, after playing out a maiden to Tino Best on 98, flicked the fast bowler to the fine leg rope and fell into his captain's embrace. He eventually fell off his 255th delivery, a tired push to a wide Sammy delivery ending in the wicketkeeper's gloves. Less than five overs later, Mushfiqur, who had batted with the crisp solidity that defines his batting, charged at Permaul to give a return catch on 43.
Bangladesh were still 159 runs shy of West Indies' total, but Mahmudullah and Nasir made the home side's batting depth count. They targeted the spinners intermittently and battled against the fast bowlers, who tested them with short deliveries and yorkers. By stumps, Bangladesh were within sight of West Indies' 527, and by now, the visitors must be wondering whether their declaration had come too early on day two, as the pitch remained largely placid on day three.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo