Conquering tomorrow’s first session can rule them all
Often a team do not need to dominate every session, or the majority even, to win a Test match as the fate of the great game invariably hinges on whoever stamp their authority on the key ones. Such a session is tomorrow's first session when Mushfiqur Rahim and Yasir Ali walk out to the middle at the Zahur Ahmed Cricket Stadium in Chattogram.
The hosts' top-order collapse at the final session today had taken this game, where the odds favouring each team swung like a pendulum so far, to a threshold where it is now highly improbable to end in a stalemate.
Bangladesh lead by 83 runs with six wickets in hand and will be hoping to bat at least two sessions on the fourth day tomorrow to give themselves a fighting chance of winning the ongoing Test against Pakistan.
Even though the visitors have had the upper hand in five of the nine sessions played so far – opening session, all three in the second day and the latest -- the Tigers can still land again on the driving seat if they can weather the early storm in the first hour of play. Good news for the hosts is that, two stars of their first innings batting – Mushfiqur Rahim and Liton Kumar Das – can be backed to repeat their stellar performances to steer the side to a substantial lead, even it seems a little too much to ask given how the game has played out, especially in the morning sessions for the Tigers.
It goes without saying that someone of Mushfiqur's calibre would be relishing this opportunity to shine against a quality bowling attack on such a stage. And also Bangladesh's top-order batters, who went out in the more disappointing fashion among all 14 batters dismissed yesterday, can learn a thing or two from Mushfiqur, the most technically sound batter of the side, on how to deal with the threats of Shaheen Afridi and Hasan Ali, especially in their first spell of the day.
It is a great opportunity for the debutant Yasir as well, who will resume the day's proceedings from the non-striker's end on a cautious 8 off 34 deliveries. Run-rate should not be a headache for Bangladesh and Yasir, who would be looking to survive the morning unscathed and play a second fiddle, mainly to ease Mushfiqur's nerves early on and, if needed, guide the tailenders to frustrate the visitors so that the Tigers end up not missing Mahmudullah Riyad too much.
Bangladesh cannot afford to lose more than two wickets before lunch and likewise the Babar Azam-led side would want to make hay while the ball is still new as they would not want to find themselves negotiating Taijul and company while needing to chase something around a 250 target on the intimidating fifth day of a Test match.