2nd Test, Day 3: Mehidy picks three as India’s top-order collapses in chase of 145 against Bangladesh (ld)

Mehidy Hasan Miraz picked three wickets in a stunning spell as India suffered a top-order collapse in a chase of 145 to end day three of the second Test at 45/4 in 23 overs. The visitors still require 100 more runs with six wickets in hand on a deteriorating pitch against Bangladesh to win the second Test at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium, here.

Bangladesh were reeling at 113/6 in their second innings. But Litton Das’s counter-attacking 73 helped the hosts’ get 118 runs off the last four wickets. He led a spirited fightback with crucial partnerships of 46 with Nurul Hasan, who made 31 and 60 with Taskin Ahmed, who was unbeaten on 31, as Bangladesh made 231 in 70.2 overs.

In defence of 145, Bangladesh’s bowlers often attacked the stumps, were accurate with their line and length. The spinners hit the rough patches constantly and reaped rewards with persistent pressure as India’s top four batters went on an ultra-defensive approach and lost their wickets in the process.

Bangladesh were given an early breakthrough by captain Shakib Al Hasan, who drew his Indian counterpart KL Rahul for a forward defence, but the thick outer edge was caught by Nurul Hasan behind.

Cheteshwar Pujara danced down the pitch to defend off Mehidy, but he was beaten on the outside edge and was stumped by Nurul after an initial fumble. Shubman Gill’s struggle came to an end when he came down the pitch to play against Mehidy, but missed the delivery and was easily stumped.

Virat Kohli survived an lbw appeal off Taijul Islam as replays showed an inside edge. But three overs later, Kohli pressed forward to defend against Mehidy and the inside edge was caught by an alert short leg.

Axar Patel, promoted to number four, was proactive at the crease, punching and pulling against the spinners to be unbeaten on 26 with Jaydev Unadkat not out on three. A see-saw day of Test cricket on Saturday has set the stage for a riveting climax to the match on day four.

Earlier, Das began the final session with a lovely lofted drive over cover for a boundary off Mohammed Siraj, before punching off Axar through backward point for four more. Taskin got a thick edge past gully off Siraj, bringing the half-century of the partnership.

Mohammed Siraj broke the partnership when his nip-backer castled Das through the gate. In the next over, Taijul was trapped lbw by Ravichandran Ashwin, before Khaled Ahmed was run-out to finish Bangladesh’s innings.

For India, Axar ended with 3/68, while Siraj and Ashwin had two wickets each while Unadkat and Umesh Yadav had a wicket apiece. It was in the second session where Bangladesh’s counter attack began to take shape, as India made errors in fielding. Notably, Kohli dropped three catches at slip, including shelling chances of Das twice on 20 and 49.

The second session started on a sour note for India as they lost their third and last review in the 37th over, when replays confirmed that Zakir had got an inside edge on an inswinger from Unadkat.

Zakir reached his fifty with a straight drive on the front foot for three runs, enhancing his credentials as a long-term Test opener with another mature knock. But he fell soon, unable to keep an expansive cut down off Umesh and gave a good low catch to third man.

Das had early escape twice against Axar, when Kohli missed the chances of taking catches at slip, giving the right-hander two boundaries. But he had success in his next over when he trapped Mehidy Hasan Miraz lbw while going for a sweep.

Nurul set the base for a counterattack by slashing Umesh through covers for a boundary, before dancing down the pitch to smack Ashwin for a six over long-on. Das joined the party by sweeping Axar twice through on the leg-side for a brace of boundaries.

Nurul had a reprieve when Axar extracted the outside edge off his bat, but deflected off the keeper’s glove and Kohli at slip couldn’t take the catch, giving the batter a boundary. The partnership came to an end when Nurul came out to hit against Axar and was stumped.

On the stroke of tea, Axar trapped Das lbw with a skiddy, quicker delivery. But Bangladesh got to change the on-field call as replays showed the ball missing leg stump. Kohli put down another catch at first slip off Ashwin, giving Das a reprieve and his half-century. Das and Ahmed took a boundary each off Ashwin and Axar respectively till tea arrived.

In the morning, Ashwin took out Najmul Hossain Shanto by trapping him lbw, a ball after surviving a close leg-before decision. Mominul Haque nicked behind to the keeper off Siraj. Unadkat dismissed Shakib when his checked drive was chipped to cover while Axar trapped Mushfiqur Rahim lbw on the stroke of lunch.

Post lunch, Bangladesh fought back with bat and ball to leave India in a spot of bother.

Brief Scores: Bangladesh 227 in 73.5 overs and 231 in 70.2 overs (Litton Das 73, Nurul Hasan 31; Axar Patel 3/58, Mohammed Siraj 2/41) lead India 314 in 86.3 overs and 45/4 in 23 overs (Axar Patel 26 not out; Mehidy Hasan Miraz 3/12) by 100 runs

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