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News Analysis

When underdogs came painfully close

In the wake of Zimbabwe's defeat to Sri Lanka, after being in control for the best part of five days, we look at other instances where underdogs have fumbled positions of strength

A dejected Khaled Mahmud after the game, Pakistan v Bangladesh, 3rd Test, 4th day, September 6, 2003

Bangladesh couldn't believe they ended up on the wrong side in Multan  •  AFP

Inzamam denies Bangladesh first Test win
Before their series in Pakistan in 2003, Bangladesh had never taken a first-innings lead in a Test, leave alone winning one. In the final Test of the series, they put in their best performance yet, and by the end of it, Inzamam-ul-Haq and a number of Bangladesh players were in tears, as Pakistan won by one wicket. Defending 260 in the fourth innings, Bangladesh were well on course for victory, having reduced Pakistan to 205 for 8. When a comedy of errors involving Inzamam resulted in Umar Gul's run-out, five runs were still needed and No. 11 Yasir Ali took strike. Five balls later, a teary-eyed Inzamam was embraced by all and sundry and showered with rose petals, while the Bangladeshis were lost in disbelief.
De Silva, Ranatunga nail record chase to deny Zimbabwe
A record chase in Colombo, a series of questionable umpiring decisions, and Sri Lanka going through in the end. Nineteen years ago, a game with eerie similarities to this one was played at the Sinhalese Sports Club. Sri Lanka's most experienced pair put on a record 189-run partnership to chase down 326. After legspinner Paul Strang delivered Zimbabwe an unlikely first-innings lead, Andy Flower's unbeaten 105 left Sri Lanka a formidable target to chase in just five sessions. But some umpiring decisions went against Zimbabwe, leaving them bitter after the loss. Dave Houghton, Zimbabwe's coach, made it clear he thought the umpires had robbed his team.
Ponting leaves Bangladesh with 'a moral victory'
Bangladesh had the upper hand for the better part of the Test, hammering 355 runs on the first day and gaining a 158-run first-innings lead. Shane Warne and Jason Gillespie bundled Bangladesh out for 148 in the second innings, but Australia still had to chase 307 on a deteriorating pitch. Mohammad Rafique ran through the middle order, but Ricky Ponting's 367-minute century steered Australia home with three wickets to spare.
Vettori breaks Bangladesh hearts
Like the best Test matches, this one see-sawed for 14 out of 15 sessions, and New Zealand were left needing 36 runs with five wickets in hand going into the final session. Bangladesh took out Daniel Vettori, who had come in at No. 4 and compiled a patient 76. Kyle Mills and Jacob Oram saw out a tense final period, and Bangladesh lost yet another home Test from a position of strength, having set New Zealand 317 to win after earning the first-innings lead.