Bangladesh ran out of steam - Shakib
Shakib Al Hasan admitted that the experience of taking consecutive Test matches deep into the fifth day had left his team weary when it came to the sharp end of the contest, as he reflected on a series from which his players emerged with great credit, but once again, nothing tangible to show for their efforts.
For Shakib it was a match from which he took great personal pride, as he underlined his credentials as a world-class allrounder with scores of 49 and 96, as well as a marathon haul of 4 for 124 in 66 first-innings overs. But those three statistical near-misses encapsulated the frustrations that Bangladesh felt collectively, as a match that they had dominated for large parts of the first half of the game degenerated into a sapping nine-wicket defeat.
"We were bowling in the last session of the fifth day, and in the last Test we also played five days, so it was tiring for us," said Shakib. "Normally we don't play so much cricket, so it was a very tough job for us, and I think many of us lost our intensity. We need to see how physically fit we are, because maybe some of us thought we cannot do it anymore at this stage. When England got to 100 for 1, we were a bit loose, which should not have happened."
Inevitably, much of the blame for Bangladesh's collapse will be pinned on the umpiring on the third day, but Shakib denied that his side had still been dwelling on those missed opportunities when they shipped six match-changing wickets the following day. Instead he blamed misfortune, with Junaid Siddique being caught off Alastair Cook's boot, and Imrul Kayes bowled via an improbable deflection off the thigh-pad.
But at 172 for 6, with a lead of 94 going into the final day, there was still a slender opportunity to bat out for a draw, a result that would have counted as a very moral victory. Shakib's intent was plain upon the resumption, as he set about establishing a total that could be defended, but in the end he played one rash shot too many with a century beckoning and only the No. 11 Rubel Hossain for company.
"The situation was that we had to score either 40-odd runs or survive 10 more overs," said Shakib, whose stumping for 96 off James Tredwell left England needing 209 in a minimum of 55 overs. "I thought the second one was a difficult option, so I went for my shot. Maybe I could have defended it, but in that case, if Rubel was out in the next over, I would have regretted it.
"At first I thought to play a sweep over square leg," he said. "Then I thought his ball was not spinning at all. Everything was coming straight, so I wanted to play straight. But that did spin and I missed it. It was a very tricky situation because I had to think both attack and defence, and I've hardly ever faced a situation like this. It was a new experience for us, but hopefully we will learn from it.
"Personally, I tried to give whatever I could. If you consider my Test career, I would say I worked harder in this Test than anyone," he added. "I just wanted another 20-25 runs, so that we could have push them. If they had needed more than 110 runs in each session things would have been easier for us. But they needed only 100 and 100, and on the last day of the last game, it was difficult for us."
For Shakib, it was the third time in his Test career that he had been stuck on 96 at the end of an innings, although he did reach his maiden century against New Zealand in February. "Nowadays luck is not doing any favour to me," he said. "I've got 49, 96, four wickets ... the last one was not coming. Hopefully luck will smile on me again."
With a little more experience - and they are gaining more and more with each match - Bangladesh will be better placed in the future to capitalise on situations such as they faced in this contest. For all that England's approach to the match attracted few admirers, their greater awareness of the end-game paid off in the final stages, as Cook pointed out afterwards.
"I think we could have chased up to 250 in 50 overs on that wicket," said Cook. "We didn't mind Bangladesh playing a few shots, because we were happy to sacrifice a few runs for wickets, instead of having to prise them out. Once we'd got a good start, and kept our wickets in hand, towards the end we felt we could chase anything down.
"On that wicket, you needed a really big score in the first innings," he added. "Bangladesh needed a bigger score if they wanted to win the game, and they will learn from that experience that 400 wasn't good enough. But the fight that they showed here and at Chittagong has surprised us all and it bodes well for their future."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo. Go to http://twitter.com/miller_cricket to follow him on Twitter through the England tour of Bangladesh.