Fighting back

The West Indies toiled very hard on the third day, but Ravi Rampual (third right) had reason to celebrate after capturing a wicket.

DHAKA – A maiden Test century from Naeem Islam and a fighting knock from Shakib Al Hasan ensured that the first Test between Bangladesh and the West Indies was evenly poised at the end of the third day’s play in Mirpur.

Bangladesh managed to add 291 runs in the day for the loss of just three wickets as they finished the day on 455 for 6, trailing by only 72 runs.

The hosts resumed the day on 164 for 3 with Al Hasan and Islam still in the early parts of their innings. The duo battle through the early part of the innings with ease and were on top of the West Indies bowling attack for most parts. Both batsmen maintained a fairly consistent scoring rate, putting up a 50-run stand off 96 balls and then a 100-run partnership off 197 balls.

All-rounder Al Hasan got to his half-century off 96 balls and his partner didn’t take much longer to follow suit, getting to a fifty off 136 balls. At lunch the hosts were comfortably poised at 252 for 3.

After the break, things got a little interesting with West Indies pegging one back. Al Hasan threw his wicket away as he skipped down the track to pick of the bowlers Ravi Rampaul and lofted the ball to give an easy catch to substitute Asad Fudadin. The left-hander departed for 89 and walked back looking quite cross with himself.

West Indies weren’t able to capitalise on that opening though, as Islam carried on the good work and brought up a much deserved Test century. At tea Bangladesh were 349 for 4, with Islam on 102 and captain Mushfiqur Rahim supporting him well on 32.

The final session of the match was one that tested Bangladesh. The hosts lost two wickets after the resumption of play, but what made it worse was the fact that both the wickets were of the set batsmen. Islam was the first to perish for 108, showing signs of fatigue, as he cut the ball and sent it straight into the keeper’s gloves off captain Darren Sammy.

Rahim fell shortly after, whacking one straight back to debutant left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul, who did well to hold on to a tough chance. The skipper fell seven short of his half century and all of a sudden Bangladesh were in a tangle with the scoreboard reading 368/6.

But an 87-run stand between Mahmudullah and Nasir Hossain then saved the day for the hosts and ensured that the early work done by the batsmen was not wasted. The duo focused on not giving their wickets away and just kept the runs ticking. The first session of the fourth day tonight Barbados time could go a long way in determining the outcome of the match.

Following Bangladesh’s fight back, West Indies coach Ottis Gibson defended his team’s decision to declare their first innings when they did. West Indies were cruising at 527 for 4 at tea on the second day, when Sammy called the innings closed.”You can make 600 but you will still need to have enough time to come back and win the match,” Gibson said.

“The pitch is flat and the ball didn’t do much for pace or spin. So if you want to get 20 wickets, you need more time to bowl them out.”Sunil Narine going wicketless so far, giving away 89 runs from 21 overs, has been another problem for West Indies. Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan have picked him well, while the maiden centurion Naeem Islam faced 52 deliveries from him to score 32 without being troubled too many times. Gibson expressed his disappointment over Narine, while having good things to say about debutant Veerasammy Permaul.”

He [Sunil Narine] didn’t bowl as well as we expected him to bowl, but this is his [fourth] game in international cricket and it’s a learning experience for him. On the other side, young Permaul bowled really well. He flighted the ball. “Sammy bowled well too. Today was not all bad for us. We probably expected to get a few more wickets, but we need to work a little harder.”

Gibson put the onus on Bangladesh to still play positive cricket.”There are still two more days to go and I would like to say that Bangladesh will definitely want to win it. If they targeted to draw the match then it would be a negative situation. They played a really good day today and that will give them confidence to win the game. But there are two days ahead of us and they are still behind us, so who knows what will happen.”

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