Bangladesh v West Indies, 1st Test, Mirpur, 4th day November 16, 2012

Massive test awaits Bangladesh

In the past, Bangladesh have competed for parts of Test matches before folding. Can they avoid a familiar story on Saturday?

The fifth day's play of the Dhaka Test will be Bangladesh's second "final" of the year, but the cricket to be played on the final day against West Indies will have little resemblance to the other final held in March. In the last four days, the batsmen got them the first-innings lead and a late burst of wickets from the spinners on the fourth evening means Bangladesh still have a say in the proceedings. Such a position is not rare but they have often squandered it. To handle it properly, the Bangladesh team has to harness their talent with an attitude that combines pragmatism and creativity.

The most crucial phase will be when Bangladesh chase. Having posted their highest-ever score and crossed the 500-mark for the first time, the threat of free-fall is looming. The batting line-up has normally had calamitous second innings' after crossing the 400-mark in the past. The team's inaugural Test is a prime example while the same happened against Australia in Fatullah, against England in Dhaka and against New Zealand in Hamilton.

Also, out of the 13 times they have batted in the fourth innings of a Test, Bangladesh have been bowled out ten times. The batting worries multiply given the gap between Bangladesh's last Test and the current one, but they can take inspiration from the two times they fought to a draw by batting well on the final day and, of course, the three wins in their Test history.

The recent confidence is going to come from Tamim Iqbal's form and Naeem Islam's new-found doggedness, along with the batting that goes on till No. 8. But pessimistic Bangladesh fans would suggest that those who scored 62, 72, 89, 96 and 108 have already completed their quota of runs for the match, if not the series.

If Bangladesh acknowledge their trend of making few after plenty, they will apply a bit of pragmatism to their approach, especially if they have to bat out time to save the game. If however the chase is on, the batsmen must show maturity in adapting. They haven't done this in the past, so they have to be creative about chasing, and not just go after the bowling.

But before they go out to bat, the bowlers have to mop up the West Indies tail which is likely to include the ill Shivnarine Chanderpaul. The condition of the wicket would be crucial but it is unlikely to vary too much even though a few deliveries did burst through late on the fourth afternoon.

The old ball is expected to turn a lot, and that is where Mushfiqur Rahim has to take charge. Shakib Al Hasan and Sohag Gazi have bowled well in tandem so far, and the captain should press on with the spin duo in an all-out attempt to break the overnight partnership. But if he wants to settle for a draw, he will have to take the lead in ensuring the Bangladesh second innings starts as late in the day as possible (and then brace for criticism).

There are lessons too from that narrow defeat to Pakistan in the Asia Cup. Tamim had scored 60 but wasn't determined enough to turn it into a big score while there was agonisingly slow batting from Nazimuddin and Nasir Hossain. There was an assumption that when Tamim or Shakib Al Hasan are blazing away, the rest can sit back. It won't be the case on the fifth day when all eight frontline batsmen have to contribute to save or win against West Indies.

The selection panel has announced an unchanged side for the second Test in Khulna, but it shouldn't be the only encouragement for Junaid Siddique and Shahriar Nafees, or for Shahadat Hossain and Rubel Hossain. It is missing the percentages that often hamper Bangladesh's chances of winning, something they can't afford on Saturday.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's correspondent in Bangladesh

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Derek on November 17, 2012, 10:17 GMT

    There can only be two candidates for Man Of the Match. If we discount Chanderpaul for the amount of time spent off the field. Gazi bowled well in the WI second innings but will be remembered for going for a six first ball, hitting a six then throwing his wicket and taking 6 wickets. Best produced his best to finish off BD. And the guy EXTRAS was starved when the WI bowled second time around. Anyone with Jamaican connection will know that EXTRA is a state of being. We therefore would not want to award MOTM to anyone we think was anything more than (EXTRA)ORDINARY. that performance came from young Powell with combine match score of 227 runs. In a match where wickets were difficult to come by a bowling performance of 5-24 is very good but with a winning margin of 77 runs; Powell has it for me.

  • Dummy4 on November 17, 2012, 7:49 GMT

    great articale isam...#dil dil:D

  • Zulfikar on November 17, 2012, 5:05 GMT

    @Kapil_Choudhary, there's nothing wrong in your observation. but the thing is that no country in the world of cricket is left without embarrassments. some had bad times continuously for a long period. such as india had great many players at some time during and after 1983 and 1984 victory, but later on it continuously failed to bring about a comprehensive victory for a long time. the lack of temperament was very much visible at those times both in test and odi. of course the indians have got a long history of cricket to build up its own cricket culture being spiced with indian and english flavours. as such, the sudden fall of temperament at some climax point repeatedly was very much unexpected and, at some times, disappointing too. but that does not change the position of india in the world cricket. the bangladeshi boys do not have long noses yet to touch the sky. but they have learned to face the long noses and that is for sure.

  • Kapil on November 17, 2012, 2:56 GMT

    Ok BD fans - let me just say what most of the world thinks here. Contrary to what this article claims, BD has never really batted well on a fifth day - because the 2 times they did do that was against Zim and what essentially was WI 'A'. So, as far as the rest of the world is concerned, those 2 performances don't matter. And forget about wins, BD hasn't even obtained a draw against proper opposition without rain assistance. The only other tests when BD actually competed well throughout the test against proper opposition are the tests where Inzy saved Pak, and the draw in St. Lucia - which too BD would probably have lost if rain hadn't interfered. So, this is so far definitely among BD's best 3 Test performances. If BD can draw tomorrow, this test will go down as BD's best ever performance and their first legitimate draw. If BD can actually win (and I definitely don't think they can), BD may even get some respect. If however BD goes 120 all out again, the test will quickly be forgotten

  • Dummy4 on November 17, 2012, 2:06 GMT

    We had FOUR wonderful days. The boys showed grit and determination and character against the World Champion West Indies. That's no easy feat. Now lets finish what we started. Inshallah, we will win this one as long as we BADLY want to win. Its the hunger to win that's been missing. Come on boys. You can do it!

  • rafiquzzaman on November 16, 2012, 20:34 GMT

    No doubt there will be some imense pressure on BD batsmans but this is the test cricket all about; you need to know how to handle the pressure specially on the fifth day. Waiting for a real 5th day of a spectracular test match. All the best wishes for the tigers.

  • Dummy4 on November 16, 2012, 19:07 GMT

    One word ALLAH IS THERE come on lets do this

  • Dummy4 on November 16, 2012, 18:40 GMT

    Dhaka or Hamilton were not calamitous. They did not hold the edge after first innings.

  • Dummy4 on November 16, 2012, 18:07 GMT

    Bangladesh should win this match [INSHAALLSH].

  • Dummy4 on November 16, 2012, 17:41 GMT

    Bangladesh came off age; the wicket is not a typical 5th day wicket; no reason why we shouldn't be able to do it ::: CHOLO BANGLADESH

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