Gradually, grindingly, laboriously England shook off Bangladesh yesterday. It was rarely pretty, it was frequently inefficient and it ended with petty bellyaching, which is a bit rich only two days from the end of a tour in the sub-continent.
All that kept it remotely stimulating was that some Test matches can be deceptive, unfolding slowly, creeping up unsuspected until a dramatic last act. England extended their first innings lead to 77 and then let slip a series of catches, most of which were tough, one of which was among the biggest sitters in the history of big-time cricket and all of which might cost matches.
With a mixture of injudicious batting and sheer bad luck, Bangladesh finished the fourth day of the Second Test on 172 for six, the equation of runs accumulated and wickets shed not quite balanced in their favour. But they had made a contest of it, which is not something that could be said of their contributions in most of their previous 65 Test matches.
For the tourists, Tim Bresnan demonstrated once more that if hard work and application can make an international all-rounder he is eminently qualified. He fell nine short of a maiden Test century in only his second innings, playing the type of expansive heave that he had eschewed over the course of the previous 260 balls and being stumped by Mushfiqur Rahim who defied his critics in doing so. It was an unfortunate demise to an extremely careful innings. Perhaps it was retribution for his not being given out when he appeared to have been caught off bat and pad when only five.
Bresnan was again the most persistent of England's seam bowlers, though in the later stages of an oppressive day, Stuart Broad produced his most incisive spell of the series, reverse swing being truly evident. It was a pity that Broad again exhibited the unsavoury side of his nature.
Refused an lbw shout four overs from the close, he immediately and rather too overtly showed his displeasure. The day that an international cricketer does not show disappointment he may as well find other work, but Broad is making an unwelcome habit of wearing his heart on his sleeve and a grimace on his face.
Next ball was another slanted in at the consistently obdurate Mushfiqur which took the bat and slid on to the stumps. Broad turned round to mouth an appeal at the umpire, Tony Hill, as if to ask if that was close enough. He and England insisted later that he had not seen the ball hit the stumps but their need to do so hints that Broad is sailing close to the wind.
So far, Broad's only official rebuke has been for the display of an unapproved logo. He is adept at apologising to umpires but the feeling grows that it is only a matter of time before his grumpiness burgeons into something more disagreeable.
England were hardly on top of their game all day. The plan seemed to be to first guide Bresnan to his century. Bresnan could not have had a more diligent partner than James Tredwell who was also stumped by Rahim to end England's innings.
If it was Bangladesh it was again time for Tamim. He has been the most refreshing sight of this past month. Whatever the game or the state of play he bats with a buccaneering freedom. So he did again, abetted by England who put him down three times on his way to his third half-century in four innings.
Matt Prior might have caught him behind off Tredwell had he had Usain Bolt hands, Tredwell himself might have held on to a blistering return chance. And then with the debutant off-spinner again wheeling away, Tamim smeared one high to point where Jonathan Trott prepared to take a routine catch – high but not high, swirling but not much, easy-peasy. He shelled it. The moment may live with him as long as his Ashes-deciding hundred at The Oval. In that moment he knew all about cricket being a cruel mistress.
Tamim did not survive much longer, Graeme Swann, mysteriously overlooked for long enough yesterday, having him caught at gully off one which turned. England also put down Jahurul Islam, another devilishly sharp chance to Prior.
If these were moments of fortune for the home side they could rue Imrul Kayes being bowled by Broad off the underside of his thigh pad, and Junaid Siddique being caught and bowled by Tredwell after his drive looped up from Alastair Cook's boot at silly point.
It was a better day for Cook, though the prospects of him being an attacking England captain seem slim. The Bangladesh second innings started with two slips and a deep cover. All for Tamim, of course. England were taking no chances with this Bangladesh side.
Tamim's let-offs: Dropped catches
Jonathan Trott's reprieve of Tamim Iqbal at point was among the most glaring missed catches seen in many a long year. England, though, have made a habit of sparing Tamim in this match:
Bangladesh first innings
Paul Collingwood Dropped a hard chance flayed above his head at first slip with Tamim on 11.
Alastair Cook Should have taken a steepling chance off a leading edge at mid-off when Tamim had got to 35.
Matt Prior/Paul Collingwood Tamim was on 15 when a thick edge was dropped by Prior and first slip.
James Tredwell Tamim had moved to 28 when he hit a fierce return drive, which Tredwell has 0.4 seconds to react to and nearly clings on.
Jonathan Trott Disbelief is the pervasive reaction as Trott shells a floating dolly with Tamim on 35.
Scoreboard Sher-e-Bangla Stadium
Second Test, Dhaka, fourth day of five; Bangladesh won toss
Bangladesh: First Innings 419 (Iqbal 85, Mahmudullah 59, Islam 59no, Swann 4-114).
England: First Innings (I R Bell 138, I J L Trott 64, M J Prior 62). Overnight: 440-8
T T Bresnan st Rahim b Razzak 91
J C Tredwell st Rahim b Razzak37
S T Finn not out 0
Extras (b9 lb12 w1 nb7)29
Total (173.3 overs)496
Fall: 1-29 (Cook), 2-105 (Pietersen), 3-107 (Collingwood), 4-174 (Trott), 5-272 (Prior), 6-415 (Bell), 7-426 (Swann), 8-434 (Broad), 9-481 (Bresnan), 10-496 (Tredwell).
Bowling: Islam 14-3-45-0; Razzak 39.3-8-132-3; Al Hasan 66-27-124-4; Mahmudullah 20-4-53-1; Hossain 26-4-88-1; Islam 7-0-29-0.
Bangladesh: Second Innings
T Iqbal c Broad b Swann 52
I Kayes b Broad 4
J Siddique c & b Tredwell 34
J Islam b Swann 43
S Al Hasan not out 25
M Rahim b Broad 3
S Islam not out 0
Extras (w 5) 5
Total (6 wkts, 68 overs) 172
Fall: 1-23 (Kayes), 2-86 (Iqbal), 3-110 (Siddique, 39.4 ov), 4-130 (Mahmudullah, 44.3 ov), 5-156 (Islam, 57.2 ov), 6-169 (Rahim, 64.5 ov).
To Bat: Naeem Islam, Abdur Razzak, Rubel Hossain.
Bowling: Broad 11-2-37-2; Bresnan 9-2-21-1; Tredwell 23-7-59-1; Finn 7-2-17-0; Swann 18-6-38-2.
Umpires: AL Hill (New Zealand) and RJ Tucker (Australia).Reuse content