Given the bruised and battered state of pitch at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium, only a brave soul would predict that the Bangladeshi pace bowlers will have a say on the final day of the third Test.Despite the overhead conditions and playing surface in this game, the two sets of pace bowlers have actually given a decent account of themselves. Tinashe Panyangara is the third highest wicket-taker in the series and the top among pace bowlers while Shafiul Islam was steady in the first innings here.Only Shahadat Hossain has had some success at this venue, taking 22 Test wickets, second only to Shakib Al Hasan's 40 wickets. In first-class cricket, it is Chittagong's Tareq Aziz who has taken most first-class wickets at this venue which is a huge credit for a pace bowler.
Among Bangladesh's current attack, Shafiul has taken six wickets previously while Rubel Hossain has five in six first-class games. So both pace bowlers will likely be having less focus on them on the fifth day, as it is certain that Mushfiqur Rahim's prime concern would be to take the maximum out of Shakib Al Hasan, Taijul Islam and Jubair Hossain in the remaining 90 overs.
Shafiul can however stake a claim to some more bowling after his attacking intent in the Zimbabwe first innings fetched him two wickets. His figures of 2 for 50 from 18 overs broke two partnerships. He first removed Hamilton Masakadza when the second wicket stand had risen to 160 runs on the third morning and later picked up Regis Chakabva's wicket when his 113-run sixth wicket partnership with Elton Chigumbura was looking threatening. Shafiul used a straight line and a lot of patience to pick up the two wickets."My goal was to make him [Masakadza] play straight," Shafiul said. "I set a field with five on the on-side so if I bowled on the fourth stump, he would have found boundaries quite easily. So I tried to bowl it as straight as possible and I got the wicket. It was the same with the second wicket. I tried to keep him playing straight and waited for the mistake."
"I tried to bowl stump to stump. As simple as that. I wanted the batsmen to make the mistakes, by continuing to bowl at the stumps. If they make one mistake, I would have a chance. Fortunately, I took two wickets and on both occasions the umpires gave the decision."But given the conditions, Shafiul had to have a surviving mentality, so that the captain wouldn't take him out of the attack and hand the ball to a spinner. He said that his confidence is now much better than the time immediately after recovering from injury earlier this year."I started off by trying to cut off the runs. I wanted to give them as few as possible," Shafiul said. "If I gave away too many runs, then I would be taken out of the attack. I just had to be patient. That's the key in this pitch. If you are patient, you will be rewarded."I had lost all my confidence through the ankle and shoulder injuries," he said. "I thought I wouldn't be able to bowl with the same pace or energy. But I slowly came back. First it was the rehab and then the first-class matches. I made a comeback in the West Indies, and I retained my place here."Panyangara has been the standout pace bowler in the series. He has taken at least one wicket in each of the six innings in Dhaka, Khulna and Chittagong, with his best performance being the 5 for 59 in the first innings of the first Test.But he was not prepared to rate any of his performances because of his team's dire state. He said bowling in Chittagong was quite tricky as it gave the bowler with very little margin for error. "So far all of them are on the same level because we haven't won yet," Panyangara said. "Whenever we win and if I have done well, I will put that on top. Since I haven't done well, nothing is on top."I think it was a bit tricky to bowl on this. Sometimes the ball was going through a bit and then other times it wasn't going through as much," he said. "It is a very good batting wicket, as a bowler you have to be very disciplined which is not the easiest of things against the Bangladeshi batting line-up. It is a challenge at the same time."If there is a pace bowling picking up wickets, be assured that he will have to bowl with utmost discipline, particularly in the span of 90 overs.