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West Indies stretch lead despite wobble after Rahkeem Cornwall five-for

Stumps West Indies 296 and 41 for 3 (Bonner 8*, Warrican 2*) lead Bangladesh 296 (Liton 71, Mehidy 57, Rahim 54, Cornwall 5-74, Gabriel 3-70) by 154 runs

Liton Das and Mehidy Hasan starred with the bat for Bangladesh, while Rahkeem Cornwall earned his second Test five-wicket haul as the third day of the Dhaka Test see-sawed right until the close of play. At stumps, West Indies were 41 for 3 in their second innings, leading by 154 runs. While they do hold the advantage, Bangladesh have enjoyed the greater success in the last two sessions of the day.

Starting the day on 105 for 4 in their first innings, well behind West Indies’ 409, Bangladesh’s overnight batsmen Mohammad Mithun and Mushfiqur Rahim had to survive a barrage of short balls from Shannon Gabriel first up. But when Gabriel – who overstepped thrice in his first three overs – went fuller, he was put away by the two for fours through the covers. Jomel Warrican, the left-arm spinner, had his opening spell cut short as he drifted too often to the leg, allowing easy runs on the on side.

Cornwall then replaced Warrican and created the first chance of the morning when Mithun mistimed a whip off his toes that went just beyond midwicket. But, in his next over, Cornwall got Mithun’s wicket with an unorthodox field placement. Trying to flick off his boots, Mithun – on 15 – was through his shot too early and the ball went in the air. Kraigg Brathwaite – lurking at short midwicket, where he had placed himself for that very shot – dived to his right to take the catch at full length.

Mushfiqur Rahim, meanwhile, reached his 22nd half-century in Cornwall’s first over. He tried not to let the offspinner settle in from the first ball he faced, but was almost caught at short leg soon after his half-century. He then survived a close lbw call off Cornwall after missing a sweep, but soon paid the price of being overly aggressive – on 54, he tried a reverse sweep, only to toe-end a simple catch to cover.

At 155 for 6, and still over fifty short of avoiding the follow-on, Das and Mehidy got together for 12 overs before lunch. After the session break – and against the older ball – they displayed exemplary concentration to block, leave and duck. The balls that were wide on either side of the stumps were punished for the occasional boundary.

While Cornwall’s turn from the rough outside off kept both batsmen in two minds, Warrican failed to build pressure like his partner. Mehidy often rocked back against Warrican to cut – with the turn – while Das eyed the midwicket boundary. That period of play took the stand past fifty and ensured Bangladesh had avoided following-on, which had seemed like a distinct possibility at the start of the session.

When Alzarri Joseph came into the attack, he preferred the shorter lengths. Both Das and Mehidy were happy to duck through that challenge and when Joseph bowled full, they punished him down the V. With Joseph and Gabriel failing to get any purchase with the older ball, Brathwaite went to part-time spin to count the overs down so that the pacers could return fresh with the new ball. But that’s when Das and Mehidy pounced. Nkrumah Bonner’s legspin was struck by Das for consecutive fours to reach his seventh Test fifty. Brathwaite’s offbreak, too, allowed easy singles. And when the new ball was taken, both Das and Mehidy looked to go on the offensive.

The first over with the new ball, from Gabriel, was wayward, conceding six including four byes, and brought up the hundred stand. They went for their shots, often successfully, which made Gabriel impatient. The fast bowler showed it too, by saying a few words to the batsmen on his follow through, which forced the umpires to have a chat with him. Mehidy then got his own fifty, to back up the century in Chattogram. Having lost no wickets in the session, the period after lunch belonged completely to Bangladesh. It was the first session – since the first one on the first day – that they could call theirs, as they added 91 for no loss.

Story ImageLiton Das and Mehidy Hasan kept Bangladesh in the game with a century stand  AFP via Getty Images

The post-tea session started with both batsmen looking to attack the tired West Indian bowling attack that had not gone wicketless for over 40 overs. But Cornwall put the brakes on soon after, when he removed Das for 71 for his fourth scalp after the batsman got an edge off a paddle sweep.

Trying to play fine, Das went across the stumps to sweep, but Jermaine Blackwood – at first slip – anticipated the shot and ran around behind the wicketkeeper. The ball took an inside edge, hit the back leg and popped in the air for Blackwood to take a simple catch. A few balls later, Cornwall removed No. 9 Nayeem Hasan after the batsman edged a defensive shot to Blackwood at slip, earning him the five-wicket haul.

From the other end, Gabriel had the last laugh over Mehidy. The allrounder fell for 57 when his attempt to drive through the off side went straight to cover for a catch. Gabriel earned another wicket to end the Bangladesh innings on 296 when he rapped No. 11 Abu Jayed on the glove, for a simple catch to gully. Bangladesh lost their last four wickets for only 15 runs in under six overs.

With 21 overs to go in the day, Bangladesh started with spin and struck thrice before stumps. Brathwaite was first to go, when he tried to flick Nayeem, only for it to go to wicketkeeper Das off the gloves. Mehidy then entered the record books when he became the fastest (and youngest) Bangladesh bowler to 100 Test wickets with Shayne Moseley edging to second slip. Mehidy reached the mark in 24 Tests, beating the previous record of 25, set by Taijul Islam.

Islam then removed the other opener, John Campbell, late in the day in an unusual manner. As Campbell played defensively, the ball appeared to spin back after dropping on the pitch and turned back to hit the stumps.

The final few minutes saw Bonner and nightwatchman Warrican trying to survive with soft hands. Bangladesh surrounded the batsmen with as many players as they could, but there was no further damage.

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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