Tamim century puts Bangladesh in charge
Bangladesh moved towards safety in the first two sessions before accelerating in the last to take control of the game. Tamim Iqbal hit his maiden century and shared a 146-run stand with Junaid Siddique to hand Bangladesh a 252-run lead by the end of the fourth day's play in St Vincent. However, if they don't manage to bowl out West Indies on the final day they might wonder if they had erred by not scoring at a faster clip today.
West Indies didn't allow them to get away at a frenetic, match-controlling, pace with disciplined line-and-length bowling but perhaps Bangladesh were worried about repeating their first-innings collapse and opted for the safety-first tactic; they didn't try to quicken the scoring until post-tea.
Tamim started the third session like a runaway express, hitting David Bernard to all parts of the ground - a crunching pull hopping on one leg and a thunderous wallop over wide mid-off being the highlights - but fell, going for the fifth boundary in the over. With his exit, the momentum started to slowly shift and when Siddique fell, squeezing Darren Sammy to gully, it slowed down further. And with Mohammad Ashraful falling cheaply, yet again, Bangladesh were forced to return to the cautious route.
Before his late blitz Tamim had steered the side calmly, playing almost out of character. In the past, he has paid for his over-aggression but today, he was careful not to cross that line. He looked for his favourite off drives and didn't flinch from cutting if the ball was short. When Tino Best hurled sharp bouncers at him, he swayed away calmly but when it was short and wide enough to cut, he went for it. Post lunch, he grew more sedate, concentrating on defense and singles, and fetched the odd boundary to reach a century off his 206th ball - the most he has ever faced in a Test innings - with a push in the direction of point.
He did have his share of luck, though. He was on 34 when Floyd Reifer, the West Indies captain, dropped a sitter at slips off Sammy and, while on 76, Omar Phillips dropped another easy chance at midwicket with Ryan Austin bowling.
Siddique gave him company after lunch and started the session with two cut boundaries against Kemar Roach, but he too settled down to score at a gentle pace. With the bowling looking unthreatening as the session wore on, he picked singles easily without breaking much sweat. He looked to get on the front foot for his drives and appeared set for his maiden hundred, but the new ball found him out as he edged Sammy to gully.
Tamim had Imrul Kayes for company for much of the first session. Kayes chose to stay rooted to the crease, intent on blocking everything thrown against him. He was aware of his off stump and left many a delivery alone, only defending what he had to play at. However, he lost patience when Austin tempted him with a flighted delivery and drove it straight to short cover.
For their part, West Indies stuck gamely to their task on hand on a slow pitch. Sammy and Kemar Roach attacked the left-handed batsmen from round the stumps, punctuating the length deliveries coming in with ones that straightened outside off stump. It was a game of patience. Sammy, in particular, was disciplined and was unlucky to go wicketless in the first two sessions. He saw Tamim being dropped at slip and, in the same over, produced another edge only to see the ball fly between slip and gully. He went past the outside edge on a few more occasions but found some luck in the last session, removing Siddique with a full delivery that moved away and inducing Raqibul Hossain to drag an attempted pull onto the stumps. However, Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan steadied the innings after the loss of three quick wickets with an unbeaten stand of 54. They rotated the strike well, ensuring the lead kept growing, and will look to take it beyond 300 tomorrow to set the hosts a challenging target.
Sammy was well supported by Roach, who attacked mainly from round the stumps today. He had tended to push a tad too much across to the left-handed batsmen in the first innings but he switched the angle today and kept it fuller than the rest. He even slipped in a couple of very good yorkers but they were well dug out by Tamim. He dragged a few short in the second session before the spinners Austin and Nikita Miller took over the burden.
Austin did his part; he flighted his deliveries from a high-arm action and attacked with men crowding the bat. The suffocation nearly worked when Tamim slogged him across the line to wide midwicket but it fell safely. He continued to chip away relentlessly, never afraid to flight the ball but couldn't break through. Miller bowled a flatter trajectory and didn't taste any success. It would be interesting to see how Bangladesh spinners bowl on the final-day track. That could determine the fate of the match.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo