We are set for a thrilling finale at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Mirpur, as Bangladesh reduced India to 45 for 4 while chasing a target of 145 on Sunday.
Meanwhile, India suffering a defeat would be a great news for Pakistan as they are among the aspirants for the ICC Test Championship. But first let’s focus on the Mirpur Test.
By the time play ended on the third day of the Test, the last in a two-match series, Axar Patel and Jaydev Unadkat were batting on 26 and 3 respectively after the hosts sent the Indian top order back to the pavilion during the last session.
On a turning track plenty of assistance, the hosts started the attack with spinners Shakib Al Hasan and Taijul Islam from both ends followed by another one Mehidy Hasan Miraz who picked three wickets in devastating spell of eight overs during which he gave away just 12 runs.
He claimed the wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara (6) when India was at 12. The wicketkeeper, Nurul Hasan stumped him as he come out of the crease to defend the offspinner but missed the ball. Initially, it looked like a routine stumping appeal, but replays showed that Pujara had his bat in the air, trying to get back to safety.
A few overs later, Nurul Hasan had an easier stumping when Shubman Gill ventured out of the crease only but missed Mehidy’s delivery that held its line. He had struggled for 35 balls while scoring only 7 runs before the dismissal.
However, the biggest prize for Mehidy was Virat Kohli (1 in 22 balls) who was caught by Mominul Haque at short leg as he pressed forward to defend the ball but an inside edge ended in the fielder’s hand.
But the Indian slump was actually trigged by Shakib who KL Rahul (1) caught behind in the third over when India was at 3.
Earlier, the hosts resumed their innings on 7 for no loss but their top five batters – except opener Zakir Hussain – couldn’t offer much as they had lost four wickets for just 70 on the board. When Mohammed Siraj caught Zakir (51) at deep third man on the bowling of Umesh Yadev, they were trailing at 102 for 5 while being only 15 runs ahead.
At that point India seemingly had a firm grip on the match but Litton Das ensured a strong resistance and built small but productive partnerships first with Hasan and then Taskin Ahmed. Both were out after scoring 31 runs each.
Das, who came at the crease when Bangladesh were 70 for 4, was the eighth wicket to fall after scoring 73 valuable runs with the team total propelled to 219.
India managed to wrap up the hosts for 231, meaning that they had managed to set a 145-run target on a surface proving to be difficult to bat on with each passing moment.
For the tourists, Patel bagged 3 wickets for 68 runs in 19.2 overs. Siraj and Ravichandran Ashwin got two wickets each for 41 and 66 runs respectively while Jaydev Unadkat and Yadav grabbed one each.
Bangladesh had scored 227 in their first innings while India got a lead of 87 runs after managing in the response 314.
Consequences of ICC Test Championship
India are leading the two-match series after their 188-run victory in the Chattogram Test, meaning they won’t lose the series even in case of a defeat tomorrow (Sunday). However, it could damage their progress to the ICC Test Championship final.
They are currently second placed team with four Tests against Australia in a home series to come and a defeat in Mirpur will make their task difficult to main their position with other teams also eyeing the title.
Pakistan need Bangladesh to win
Basically, it is a combination of lots of miracles and favourable results from their rivals, requiring prayers from millions of Pakistanis.
So, if Pakistan can win their final two Test matches against New Zealand this period later this month, they can finish with a win-percentage as high as 47.62 percent.
That could be enough for them to finish in front of seven other sides and claim second place on the final standings, but this is what also needs to occur:
Australia will be their best ally as they will require Pat Cummins side to continue on their winning ways against South Africa and then next year against India
They will need Bangladesh to do them a favour and cause a huge upset by defeating India in their ongoing Test series in Mirpur
They will need New Zealand to defeat Sri Lanka in both of their Test matches in March next year
They will require the West Indies to defeat South Africa in one of the two Tests away from home next year and then hope the second match ends as a draw (this would ensure both sides finish lower than Pakistan on the standings).