Having spent two back-to-back substandard days on the field, Bangladesh have finally made their presence felt on Day 3 of the Chittagong Test. On a rain-hit Wednesday, in which only 54 overs were bowled, the hosts forced their way back in the Test match with 7 for 152. With this spirited effort, they have restricted the Australian lead to 72 (their last pair is still at the crease), which was threatening to go beyond Bangladesh’s reach when Peter Handscomb and David Warner were batting.
However, Mushfiqur Rahim’s boys may have brought themselves back in this contest but their future is not at all secured, by any means. After three days’ play, the wicket at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium has started to deteriorate. The foot marks are getting wider and today the Bangladeshi spinners made use of those quite skillfully. We can also expect the Aussie spin-trio of Nathan Lyon, Steve O’Keefe and Ashton Agar to do the same.
According to David Warner, the only centurion in the series so far, it is important for Australia to stretch the lead as much as possible. Anything close to 100 can be decisive here. Though he thinks the wicket is not unplayable, it just has some rough patches.
“Well, it’s crucial that we try and put as many runs on the board as possible. I wouldn’t say the wicket is deteriorating, there’s a little bit of rough out there created from the bowlers. The middle of the wicket is still nice and true. But as the spinners do, they’ll work what they need to do and hit those rough areas,” Warner said in his post-day press conference.
Meanwhile, the Aussie opener believes, the shot selection against the spinners will be crucial in the second innings. The batsmen have to find a way out to negate the turn which will be generated from those rough patches.
“But it’s upon the batsmen obviously to work out what they [The Bangladeshi batsmen] want to do [against spinners], if you want to sweep, if you want to lunge forward and negate that [the spin]. There’s going to be a plan both sides,” Warner mentioned.
On the hindsight, Bangladesh’s fate in this match and series now depends on their second innings batting. It is all about playing time as chances of outright win is looking less likely under the present circumstances. If the weather holds up, we have close to 200 overs still remaining in the match and ideally, the host’s batters will aim to bat out at least 120 of those.
In the first Test, on that docile wicket, Bangladesh’s both innings lasted for 78.5 and 79.3 overs respectively. Now, here at Chittagong, when they will come out to bat on Thursday, the wear and tear on the track is expected to be a bit similar to that Mirpur wicket.
Thus, the batting is required a far more determined effort.
However, from host’s point of view the lack of experience of being in a similar situation before can play a big part here. In world cricket, winning against Australia is always considered as a prized scalp. For a team like Bangladesh, who have just started to create a reputation for themselves, it has a far broader significance, which also can inject a fear of failure amongst the batsmen.
In the first innings, apart from Sabbir Rahman and Mushfiqur, a tentativeness was noticed amongst the approach of rest of the Bangladeshi batsmen. They were getting bogged down and Lyon used this fragility to his advantage. Remember, then there was no alarming turn, which will be there this time around. Also, the Aussies will leave no stone unturned to keep the life of Bangladeshi batsmen uncomfortable.
In international sport, for any developing team, a situation like this is an ideal opportunity to show character. For Bangladesh, this is going to be a huge learning curve. If they can make their way through this stern examination and achieve the glory of beating Australia in Test series, the perspective towards the purest format of the game in this country will be changed, permanently.