After getting pounded by the Indians for a couple of days in the ongoing one-off Test, Bangladesh made an inspirational comeback into the game by getting to a steady score of 322/6 at the end of the 104th over on Day 3.
Even though they still have an uphill task ahead of them as far as preventing the follow-on is concerned, the visitors will draw hope by the defiance that Shakib Al Hasan (82) displayed along with captain Mushfiqur Rahim (81 not out) and all-rounder Mehedi Hasan Miraz (51 not out).
After losing their fourth wicket with 109 on board, with the seamers doing most of the damage for the Indians, it seemed as if the stage had been set for the Indian spin twins — Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja — to come in an devour the rest of the batting order.
Shakib and Mushfiqur, who have been the pillars for the Bangladeshi middle-order, especially in the Test format, showed why their heroics in New Zealand — where Shakib notched up his maiden double ton while Mushfiqur scored 159 — should not be considered a fluke.
While Shakib plied his trade with bold strokes on both sides of the wicket, targetting especially the off-side with the cover drive being his shot of choice, Mushfiqur cut a more composed figure in his innings, going for the boundaries initially before slowing down after the fall of a couple of wickets.
Mehedi, on the other hand, scored most of his runs through boundaries, hitting 10 fours during his innings, proving his worth as an all-rounder to the side. The partnership between these two holds the key for Bangladesh if they seek to fulfill their hopes of avoiding the follow-on, and push for a draw.
That being said, India still are very much in the hunt to clinch the one-off Test by a comfortable margin, and one error is all that they would need on the fourth day if they are to pull the game back in their favour. With the Bangladeshis being good players of spin due to the similarity of conditions back home, the relevance of seamers on the fourth day isn't likely to diminish, especially with the likes of Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma bowling fine spells earlier in the day. Mushfiqur looked unsettled after copping a blow on his right thumb in the last over of the day, bowled by Ishant, and it is likely the pacers will continue to pepper him with short balls on Sunday, given how crucial his wicket will be. The Indian pacers need to use the early morning assistance and remove Mushfiqur as soon as possible because time might become a crucial factor in this Test.
However, the pitch at the same time will also deteriorate further, which should bode well for Ashwin and Jadeja in their pursuit of adding the remainder of the Bangladeshi batting order to their long list of victims that has been compiled in the last six months or so. Should Kohli bowl the visitors out for less than 487, a bit of batting is what should be the ideal way forward for the hosts in order to give their bowlers a bit of a break.