'A draw is very possible' - Shakib
Shakib Al Hasan has said that a draw is the most realistic target for Bangladesh as they look to bat out the fifth day in Galle. He also said Bangladesh's approach shouldn't just be about defending balls, but also scoring runs to stay confident.
Bangladesh have failed to survive the last day on two occasions since January already. In Wellington and Hyderabad, they made critical mistakes which enabled the opposition, New Zealand and India respectively, to dictate terms and win both Tests.
They could also look at the previous Bangladesh-Sri Lanka Test for inspiration and direction. In that match, Bangladesh batted out 76.4 overs on the final day in Chittagong, thanks to four important partnerships including an unbroken 120-run stand between Shakib and Mominul Haque that sealed the draw.
Shakib said that the batsmen should look at how Soumya Sarkar and Tamim Iqbal mixed caution with aggression in the 15 overs they batted on the fourth day in Galle, before bad light (and subsequent rain) ended play.
"[The most realistic target is a] draw, since we still have 10 wickets," Shakib said. "I think we need two or three partnerships, then a draw is possible. As I said, the first session is very important. The whole day will depend on how we play the first session.
"Every batsman coming to the wicket has to try and bat long, and also score runs because that increases a batsman's confidence and he becomes more comfortable. You cannot just defend or just attack. Everything has to be balanced, like the way Soumya batted today. He did not play any loose shots, but at the same time he had a good strike rate."
Shakib said that if the opening pair should continue in the same vein on the fifth morning, and stretch their unbroken 67-run partnership, then Bangladesh could look for a draw. Stressing on the importance of the first session on the final day, he said that playing each ball on merit will be the "normal" way to bat on a fifth-day pitch, but added that it would be hard work for every batsman that comes out to bat.
"Tamim also batted very well. Maybe he did not get that many bad deliveries so he took a bit of time to score runs," he said. "So we have a lot to learn from their [Tamim and Sarkar] batting. Hopefully they can repeat it tomorrow and those of us batting later can also repeat it, we can hope for a good result. The way the two are playing I don't think they need to change. They will play according to the merit of the ball that is normal, they will try to follow the game plan we have.
The whole team wants them [the opening pair] to bat as long as possible, then it becomes easier for the rest of the batsmen. Everyone will have to work very hard in this situation."
He said that they were also aware of the way the Galle pitch might behave on the final day, having seen the turn that was being generated from the scruffed up surface in the final session of the fourth day.
"The fifth-day pitch may behave differently. The ball has started to turn a bit now so it may do more tomorrow. But I think our batsmen are capable and since we still have 10 wickets, we genuinely believe that if not a result, a draw is very possible."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84