Bangladesh may rue some missed chances, but what they have so far achieved in the first Test against the West Indies many could not have envisioned in their dreams. First, Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan missed their hundreds and then Nasir Hossain fell only four runs short of the magical three-digit figure on the fourth day. Then there were the two dropped catches by Junaed Siddiqui, but in the end it was another successful day for the Tigers after they finished their first innings with a record 556 runs and inflicted some telling damage to the West Indies second innings in the last hour of the fourth day at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.
The match is set-up nicely after the fourth day with West Indies batting on a 215-run lead but with the loss of six wickets. There is hardly any batting left for the Caribbean side, especially as it is uncertain whether the ill Shivnarine Chanderpaul will bat today, so a great finish on the final day is on the cards, with all four results possible.
Outstanding batting from the Tigers brought the fans to the ground in numbers on Friday, a public holiday and the way the game is poised, many may not miss the opportunity to watch a tense finish on the final day from the stands. Undoubtedly Mushfiqur Rahim's men have the edge over their opponents after end of the day's play following a late surge by left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan and off-spinner Shohag Gazi. Still they have a huge task left to make it a memorable Test match, especially as there were signs of the pitch starting to crumble in the last hour, which means talented West Indies spinner Sunil Narine may be a threat for the Tigers batsmen in the second innings.
The day had an exciting finish when West Indies slipped to 244 for six from the safety of 209 for one. A 189-run partnership between Kieran Powell (110), only the ninth Caribbean batsman to make a century in both innings, and Darren Bravo (76) after the early dismissal of danger man Chris Gayle by Rubel Hossain, the fit-again pacer who also broke the inning's highest partnership by removing Bravo. West Indies lost 5 wickets for 35 runs in the space of 13.1 overs to hand the momentum to the Tigers as Shakib and Shohag, who finished the day fantastically by bowling Veerasammy Permaul with a superb arm ball, equally shared four wickets.
Before that however, the Bangladesh batsmen made a huge statement for their side -- which was playing its first Test in a year -- by amassing 556, their highest ever total by beating their previous best of 488 against Zimbabwe in Chittagong in January 2005. In the process they took a 29-run lead after resuming the day on 455 for six. They took the first-
innings lead for only the ninth time in 74 Tests as Nasir Hossain cut loose in the morning.
Most fans would not have dreamed about a first-innings lead after West Indies had amassed 527 for four; instead the most they would have hoped for was that the Tigers avert the follow-on no matter how batting-friendly the wicket was. And after the third day's play the worry was whether they could bat at least one session on the fourth day, but the Bangladesh batsmen crossed all their previous limits at Mirpur as they batted close to the end of the first session before being bundled out for 556 runs in 148.3 overs, raising expectations of a dream finish on the final day.
The home team got off to an emphatic start on the day when Riyad (62) punched the first delivery from Sunil Narine to the deep cover rope and soon became the fourth Bangladesh batsman to go past fifty in this innings as well as becoming the third to fail to convert it into a hundred when Narine got one to kick in for a catch to forward short leg.
But in the end it was more frustrating for Nasir, who was only four runs shy of his maiden Test hundred. He started the day on 33 off 75 deliveries and went on to hammer 63 off the next 61. The right-hander was calm in his manner as he attacked the spinners, who were lofted and slog-swept for boundaries. At one stage he could not keep faith on his partner, number ten batsman Shahadat Hossain, and the result was that he gave his wicket away like Tamim and Shakib. Nasir edged Tino Best to wide slip on 96 that came from 136 deliveries with the help of six fours and four sixes.
Nasir might have missed his hundred and could not keep his faith on Shahadat, but their effort helped Bangladesh to go past 550; a confidence-building
score for the Tigers and one that
has given much hope to the country's cricket lovers.