Living up to one of the oldest tropes in Test cricket, on the third day in Mirpur, the match between India and Bangladesh moved at a rapid pace towards a conclusion. There were plenty of thrills and a fair few spills too, as Bangladesh finished the day with India reeling at 45/4 and still 100 runs away from the target on a pitch assisting spinners considerably.
From 113/6, with perhaps a three-day finish on the cards, Bangladesh fought back through Litton Das – who rode his luck but played a brilliant hand – and their spinners Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Shakib Al Hasan.
At stumps on Day 3, the hosts will know that they have a decent shot at triggering a collapse early on Sunday if they could get an early wicket while India’s required target of 100 more runs will heavily depend on how Axar Patel, Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer fare.
With India looking for early wickets, Ashwin Ravichandran struck early. First, India lost a review and then Bangladesh lost a review as Shanto was eventually out LBW after two terrific deliveries from Ashwin caused the opener to misread the ball coming in.
Not long after, India lost yet another review for a LBW appeal when the ball pitched well outside leg stump off Mohammed Siraj’s bowling. The umpires perhaps had the best start to the day.
Siraj then removed Mominul, the first innings hero for Bangladesh, caught behind with a brilliant delivery from around the wicket. Bangladesh lost their first wicket after 13 runs were scored. Bangladesh lost their second wicket after another 13 runs were scored. It was a case of unlucky 13 till then.
After those wickets, Shakib Al Hasan and Zakir Hasan ensured there was no collapse. The two left-handers built a patient partnership but the Indian bowlers also kept things tight. Perhaps the only thing India did questionably in that session was delaying the introduction of Axar Patel but that was perhaps driven by the fact that Bangladesh’s top four were all Left Handed Batters.
And just as Bangladesh were starting to steady things, Shakib Al Hasan was dismissed by Jaydev Unadkat. The pacer struck in his first over of the day and it was yet another soft dismissal for the Bangladeshi captain. Actually, it made for two inexplicable dismissals in the Test match for him after a wild hoick at the start of the session in the first innings followed by a tame lob to short cover in the second.
Mushfiqur Rahim also didn’t last long and it was yet another bowling change that worked for KL Rahul and Co. Axar Patel finally came into the attack and struck in his second over. He troubled Rahim in his first over too and then got his man in no time, a LBW with one that skidded through.
There were four reviews lost in total.
In the session: 27 overs, 64 runs, 4 wickets
India lost their third review promptly at the start of the second session as Litton Das and Zakir Hasan began on a watchful note. Rahul was left scratching his head as he took a review against Zakir, despite his early instinct suggested there was an inside edge and he would have been right.
Soon after Zakir reached his half century. The opener has turned out to be quite the find at the top of the order for Bangladesh and has played two fine second innings knocks already in his first series. But his knock soon came to an end as Umesh Yadav got a big wicket. An extravagant cut shot from the left-hander, and he found Siraj in the deep.
Axar struck again after that as it was proving to be quite the task for Bangladesh batters to figure out if the ball will turn or go with the angle. Mehidy Hasan too fell LBW to one that went through.
But then the hosts launched a mini fightback. Nurul Hasan counterattacked and Litton Das too chipped in with useful runs. India’s fielding wasn’t sharp in this phase either, with edges going past Virat Kohli at slip on a few occasions for both batters and his judgement let him down.
Nurul though never looked quite comfortable, as he was living on the edge. Axar Patel removed him for a 29-ball 31, thanks to a lovely stumping by Rishabh Pant.
Das then survived a LBW decision after he was given out. India were celebrating a LBW but the solitary remaining review saved the batter. Bangladesh soon turned a 87 deficit into a 87-run lead and the pitch was definitely not getting easier to bat.
At tea, Bangladesh went in with a lead of 108 runs and Das was still in the middle joined by Taskin Ahmed, with both of them more than capable of adding quick runs.
In the session: 27 overs, 124 runs, 2 wickets
Das and Ahmed continued where they left off to frustrate the Indian bowlers. There was another instance of a review saving Bangladesh as Ahmed survived a rather shocking umpiring call for LBW with the ball pitching well outside leg stump.
The breakthrough, when it finally came, gave us another Litton Das vs Mohammed Siraj moment. The battle has been spicy throughout the series and it was the Indian pacer who had the last laugh. With the ball that cut back in sharply from a good length, Das was bowled and Siraj cupped his hands next to his ears again.
In his brief Test career, already Siraj has developed a habit of breaking important partnerships.
With no reviews left, India really had to make sure they get decisions from the on-field umpires and it showed in their vociferous appeals. One such from Ashwin LBW was given out and Taijul’s review turned out to be umpire’s call much to India’s review. With Khaled Ahmed getting run out, Bangladesh’s innings ended as India’s bowlers set up a 145-run chase for their side.
India’s batting began and from the very first over, the signs of trouble were there. Shakib Al Hasan started off proceedings, and nearly had both the openers right away. Shubman Gill was given not out LBW when for all practical purposes it seemed he was plumb in front. But the technology was on the umpire and Gill’s side as the ball was projected to miss the leg stump. Shortly after, KL Rahul’s prod was catchable but dropped at short leg.
Rahul, however, wouldn’t last long as his woeful series with the bat came to an end with Shakib turning one away from him sharply for a caught behind. Mehidy then got his first to have Cheteshwar Pujara stumped.
KL Rahul in Tests in last 12 months
|Runs||BF||Dismissal||Inns||Opposition||Ground||Start Date||Test # 2443|
|23||74||caught||3||v South Africa||Centurion||26 Dec 2021||Test # 2443|
|50||133||caught||1||v South Africa||Johannesburg||3 Jan 2022||Test # 2445|
|8||21||caught||3||v South Africa||Johannesburg||3 Jan 2022||Test # 2445|
|12||35||caught||1||v South Africa||Cape Town||11 Jan 2022||Test # 2448|
|10||22||caught||3||v South Africa||Cape Town||11 Jan 2022||Test # 2448|
|22||54||bowled||1||v Bangladesh||Chattogram||14 Dec 2022||Test # 2481|
|23||62||caught||3||v Bangladesh||Chattogram||14 Dec 2022||Test # 2481|
|10||45||lbw||2||v Bangladesh||Mirpur||22 Dec 2022||Test # 2484|
|2||7||caught||4||v Bangladesh||Mirpur||22 Dec 2022||Test # 2484|
India sent Axar Patel in at No 4 and with nearly an hour left it was evidently a tactical call to have a left-right combination in the middle and without the risk of losing Rishabh Pant early. He looked the most comfortable batter for India as it turned out.
Shubman Gill too had a rush of blood and was stumped off Mehidy’s bowling to bring Virat Kohli to the middle. The proximity of Kohli’s bat and pad while defending against spinners is a DRS nightmare, and he survived a close LBW call after being given out with the review saving him. But Mehidy did get the former Indian captain caught at short leg to cause big celebrations on and off the field.
India might still go on to win this Test but playing three seamers on this track (even if none of them really underperformed) doesn’t seem the brightest idea at the end of day three. They could probably have shaved a few runs off the target with Kuldeep Yadav in the lineup.
But that dissection will have to wait, India’s middle order and lower-middle order have to yet again do the heavy-lifting to avoid what would be a damaging defeat if they still hope to reach the World Test Championships final.
In the session: Bangladesh 10.2 overs, 36 runs, 3 wickets, India 23 overs, 45 runs, 4 wickets