The Chittagong Test is poised for a dramatic climax after Bangladesh and England wrestled for control on an absorbing fourth day.
The Tigers’ hopes rest on debutant Sabbir Rahman, who is unbeaten on 59 – his maiden Test half-century, while tailender Taijul Islam (11), at the other end, helped the hosts trim down their target to 33. But they have only two wickets in hand.
Needing 286 to win, the hosts were 253-8, their highest run-chase in a fourth innings, at stumps of the penultimate day at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium on Sunday.
In a see-saw final session, Bangladesh looked in control with Sabbir and Mushfiqur Rahim making the English bowlers toil with an 87-run partnership to cruise closer to what could potentially be their most memorable win in Test cricket.
Just when Bangladesh seemed to have grabbed the chase by the collar, veteran spinner Gareth Batty broke the key partnership and the skipper departed scoring a patient 124-ball 39 with his side 65 runs shy.
— ICC (@ICC) October 23, 2016
With the ball getting old, England captain Alastair Cook called upon his pacers and Stuart Broad (2-26) produced a superb spell of pace bowling, taking 2 for 14 from nine overs that ran until the close of play.
He dismissed debutant Mehedi Hasan Miraz (1) lbw before removing Kamrul Islam Rabbi for a duck to leave Bangladesh reeling on 238-8.
Egged on by the home crowd, Taijul then played a couple of lofted shots, one of which reached the ropes, and remained unbeaten with Sabbir.
England took out Mominul Haque, Mahmudullah and Shakib Al Hasan to reduce Bangladesh to 140-5 in the second session, but Sabbir looked unfazed and injected new life into the chase by blasting Moeen Ali for two sixes and a four.
England’s threat of reverse swing was cancelled out as the hardness of the new ball was long gone by the end of the second session as Bangladesh gathered 179-5 before tea break.
CLOSE We come back tomorrow after another absorbing day of cricket. Bangladesh 253-8, needing 33 #BANvENG
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) October 23, 2016
Sabbir and Mushfiqur put the pressure back on the tourists by settling in an aggressive sixth-wicket stand. Sabbir initially played the role of the aggressor while Mushfiqur dug deep to keep Bangladesh in the hunt.
The 24-year-old Sabbir soon settled down and the duo brought the target down to double figures before the youngster played a crafty sweep to take his team past 200. Sabbir also brought up his maiden Test half-century in style with a boundary down the ground.
By lunch on the fourth day, Bangladesh had eased to 86 after Cook employed his spinners to send back the openers.
Bangladesh’s highest successful fourth-innings run chase before this was 217 but looking at a target much higher than that on Sunday, the openers attacked the England bowlers and were off to a breezy start.
Imrul Kayes was more attacking of the pair and took the fight to the bowlers but Tamim Iqbal (9) fell to a venomous delivery from Moeen, thanks to a sharp catch from Gary Ballance at short leg.
— Test Match Special (@bbctms) October 23, 2016
Kayes pressed on to add a fluent 46 with Mominul for the highest second-wicket stand of the match. He was not afraid of hitting the ball in the air against the spinners but he also played sweeps, both conventional and reverse, to find six boundaries in his 61-ball 43.
The sweep shot, however, brought about the opener’s downfall when a delivery looped up behind the stumps where Joe Root moved across from slip to pouch it.
Early into the second session, Batty trapped Mominul (27) and Mahmudullah (17) in front in quick succession – the former given out on review before the latter unsuccessfully referred to the third umpire.
Shakib then was apparently keen to atone for his wasteful dismissal in the first innings and looked comfortable stroking the ball around from deep into his crease. He lifted the crowd’s spirits by cracking Bangladesh’s first six of the match with a big swipe off Adil Rashid over long on.
Moeen then came to England’s rescue once again. He took out the ace allrounder for 24 with a beauty, a delivery that drew the batsman forward before springing off the pitch to take a slim edge back to the keeper.
Earlier, Bangladesh bowled England out for 240 in the second innings.
England resumed with the overnight score of 228-8 but the hosts needed about 20 minutes to wrap up the innings. The tourists lost their last two wickets for 12 runs.
Broad ran himself out for 10 before Batty fell lbw to Taijul for 3.
Taijul returned 2-41 after Shakib (5-85) claimed his 15th five-wicket haul in Tests on the third day. For England, a superb allround effort from Ben Stokes had put them on a good position.