Dhaka test is delicately poised after three days of absorbing cricket. New Bangladesh dominating 7 of the 9 completed sessions looked reaching impregnable position by lunch of day three. But two poor 8th and 9th session pegged them back.
Australia not only came strongly back in the contest but according to many had their noses in front at stumps of day three. Australia need 156 runs on a wearing wicket and Bangladesh need 8 wickets to draw final outcome in their favour.
Test cricket is a test of quality , class , temperament and patience . It can change hue from session to session. Hence consistency is another essential element for success. Bangladesh started dreaming big after posting a 265 runs target for Australia on a wicket turning square and showing inconsistent bounce.
Situation required Bangladeshi spinners pitching consistently on the right spot and channel. Tiger bowlers were doing that at the start pushing Aussies back to the wall at 24/2. First innings heroes Mehedy Miraj and Shakib removed Renshaw and Khawaja early. Warner playing in his own way also not looking comfortable.
Smith also looked edgy. Chances of catching in the close in positions came few times but were floored . Smith narrowly escaped getting stumped. But these two top quality batsmen survived. They successfully steered out the team from a position of uncertainty to assurance with an unbeaten 85 runs potentially match winning innings .
It could not be assessed whether wicket suddenly eased or quality Australian batsmen forced Bangladeshi bowlers bowl to their preferred areas. Warner cruised to 75 and Smith was batting on 25 when stumps were drawn. These two are among the top 10 batsmen of world cricket now When such players are given reprieves more than once in a tight match no team can win against a highly professional team.
Earlier on the third morning Tamim and night watchman Taijul resumed batting on 45/1. Nothing much was expected of a night watchman. But Kayes was expected to give good company to his trusted partner Tamim.
But Kayes failed again .Bangladesh soon was reduced to 67/3 .Mushfique joined smooth going Tamim. These two senior pros looked solid in defence and assured in stroke play. There was nothing wrong for Bangladeshi followers dreaming for a sizeable 300 plus target for the Aussies during the lunch break. Tamim was looking good for another century.
But after lunch a fast bouncy Cummins delivery found a faint edge of Tamim’s bat .He was on 78 at that time. Tamim played two very important innings in the test . Shakib was expected to settle down and with Mushfique take the team to a safer zone. Aussie bowlers and fielders were trying to go under his skin.
Shakib lost composure. His throwing away his wicket at critical stage of the match brought Australia back in the game. Mushfique dismissal soon after was a mix of misfortune and his lack of alertness. A powerful Shabbir bowler’s back drive stuck stumps on the non-striker’s end with Mushfique out of position.
Loss of Tamim, Shakib and Mushfique set panic in Bangladesh camp. Nasir could not score and Shabbir after playing few strokes on T20 fashion also did not last long. The only resistance of the late middle order came from young Mehedy Miraj (26). Bangladesh got all out for 221 posting 265 target for Australia. Leading Aussie spinner Llyon taking 6/82 did most of the damage .
Hazelwood injuring himself was even ruled out for the series.
Chasing such a target on such a wicket could be tricky if Bangladesh bowlers could pitch consistently. They started doing it initially removing Renshaw and Khawaja 28. Warner and Smith offered two chances each at least which were not accepted unfortunately. These two seasoned pros playing to the best of their abilities forced Bangladesh bowlers loose line and length. The wicket did not change. Just brilliant batting against below par bowling. The stumps were drawn at 109/2 with Australia still needing 156 runs.
Bangladesh should regroup on the fourth morning. Aussie openers will have to take fresh guard and start all over again. The first hour would decide how long the day will last. Bangladesh needs couple of early breakthroughs. But these may not be easy. Once Australia tastes the blood they hunt relentlessly.
Watch Winning Moments of Bangladesh Against Australia
If one looks back in retrospect one would find Bangladesh middle order collapsing in the both innings. Soumya ., Shabbir and Nasir are still not ready for tests against quality opposition. Kayes does not enjoy batting out of his position at three. He also failed in either innings. The poor team selection discarding Mahmudullah for the squad and Mominul for the playing XI were vividly exposed.
Shakib had a brilliant first innings but failed to take responsibility while batting in the second innings . All Bangladesh now need is some magic spells of bowling from Bangladeshi spinners. Or otherwise Australia would cruise home by the first hour after lunch.