KINGSTOWN – An obdurate captain Mushfiqur Rahim and the embattled Mahmudullah dragged Bangladesh out of a deep hole, putting together their best day on tour so far as Bangladesh ended the fourth day of the first Test at Arnos Vale only 46 runs short of making the West Indies bat again.
From the precipice of 107 for 4, when Bangladesh were staring down a trail of collapse similar to the first innings, the fifth-wicket pair added 130 runs. More important than the runs, Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah batted out time, 50.5 overs to be precise. It didn’t promise complete security but it brought Bangladesh back into the contest.
They didn’t lose a wicket in the middle session and even after Mahmdullah’s dismissal, Mushfiqur, unbeaten on 70, and Nasir Hossain ensured they went to the final day with five wickets in hand.
The home side had themselves to blame, at least with their catching. Mushfiqur was dropped on 10 and 25 by Chris Gayle at first slip and Darren Bravo at gully. Kirk Edwards dropped a sitter at cover when Mahmudullah skied Gayle in the 80th over of the innings. At that moment, most of the West Indies players in the close-in cordon reacted strongly.
The fielding denied the good work of the fast bowlers who tested the Bangladesh batsmen quite regularly. Kemar Roach and Jerome Taylor, who suffered one drop each, used swing and the angles very well. Shannon Gabriel wasn’t just brawn as he pushed up the pace and used his height. But the trio ended the day without a wicket among them.
Left-arm spinner Suleiman Benn threatened with two early wickets but Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah dealt with him positively, not over-attacking but keeping him at bay. They nullified the danger of the part-timer Jermaine Blackwood by attacking him, ensuring there were no more embarrassing moments.
After the tea interval, Mahmudullah reached his first Test fifty in 21 months. He battled hard for most of his 151-ball stay, waiting for opportunities to tuck the ball into the leg-side, where he scored 41 out of his 66 runs.
He reached fifty with his best shot of the innings, a back-foot punch through the covers, but his celebration was muted. The shot also brought up the hundred partnership.
In the next over, Mushfiqur reached his fifty too, carrying on his assurance from the first innings, when he had been left stranded on 48 as the rest crumbled. Mushfiqur was lucky with dropped catches on two occasions but he battled hard, with Gabriel getting one to lift and hit him on the elbow and Taylor hammering one into the middle finger of his bottom hand.
Ramdin dived to his left to take an excellent catch after Mahmudullah inside-edged an attempted drive off Roach with more than ten overs remaining. Mushfiqur soldiered on and ensured that the dangerous period, with Nasir new at the crease, was negotiated safely.
Bangladesh’s progress until the lunch break was quite similar to how the first innings panned out. Their first wicket fell off the second ball of the third over, as it did in the first innings. There was a partnership thereafter but the next wicket fell in the eighties, as did the third wicket on the third day. They had been 105 for 4 at tea yesterday; today they were 110 for 4 at lunch.
Shamsur Rahman was the first wicket to fall in the morning session. Stuck at the crease, he edged Kemar Roach’s full delivery to Ramdin, who held it tidily, moving to his right.
Imrul Kayes, under pressure after falling cheaply on the third day, struck three boundaries off Roach soon after arriving at the crease. But Roach soon went around the wicket, forcing Tamim Iqbal and Kayes to play and miss on several occasions, swinging the ball into the left-handers and straightening a few.
Tamim batted calmly, finding boundaries fairly easily. The pair added a half-century partnership, which used to be a fairly regular occurrence when they used to open together. This though was their first 50-plus stand for the second wicket.
But Kayes had stalled by then, and struck one more boundary before he gave the cover fielder an easy catch off a Chris Gayle floater in the 26th over. Just prior to the delivery, Gayle had asked the batsman why he had defended the two previous balls,
Tamim, having reached an enterprising half-century in 83 balls, fell when Benn got the ball to turn back at him and crash into his stumps as he looked to punch through cover. Tamim struck four fours and three sixes, and looked fluent for most of his innings, which lasted two hours and 23 minutes.
Mominul wasn’t as organised as during the first innings half-century. He had one close shave when a forward defensive against Benn trickled onto his pads and bounced away near the stumps.
He was dismissed soon after, when the same bowler got one to dip between his bat and pad. Mominul played away from his body, and Ramdin immediately appealed, convinced there was an inside edge. Umpire Marais Erasmus agreed, and Mominul reviewed. Once again, due to a lack of evidence, the umpire’s decision stood – just as it had when Mominul had been given out caught behind down the leg side in the first innings.