We wanted to play risk-free cricket: Mehidy

Bangladesh offspinner Mehidy Hasan said on Wednesday (November 14) that the hosts are keeping their fingers crossed for the final day of the series-deciding second Test, in Dhaka against Zimbabwe. Bangladesh are comfortably placed, with Zimbabwe still needing 367 runs to win, or to survive a full day with eight wickets in hand, after they were reduced to 76 for 2 to win their first Test series since 2011.

“The match is currently in our side,” said Mehidy after the fourth day’s play. “We have given them nearly a 450-run target. We have picked two wickets as well. There is a full day and three sessions remaining. If our bowlers could bowl good lengths, then the match will be in our favour.

“We thought that if we gave them four sessions to play, that would be enough for us. We had a plan and it had been executed well and we want to do the same tomorrow,” he said.

Mehidy also defended Bangladesh’s strategy of not asking Zimbabwe to follow-on, claiming that they didn’t want to take any risks in the crucial second Test. Bangladesh made a surprise move on the fourth day as they decided to bat in the second innings, allowing Zimbabwe to take the field despite having a 218-run lead in the first.

Bangladesh, who lost the first Test by 151 runs in Sylhet, were in a desperate situation to try and win the second Test in order to level the two-match series, but their decision of batting in the second innings could be defined as their lack of chasing ability in the fourth innings. Bangladesh previously, had only won one out of five games wherein they chased a target at Sher-e Bangla National Stadium and that too came against Zimbabwe with a lot of hardship in 2014 where they lost seven wickets while chasing a small target of 101 runs.

Mehidy said that Bangladesh didn’t want to bat in the fourth innings of the Test due to nature of fifth-day wicket at the ground which always favoured the spinners. “We had two-days’ time left. They were trailing by 200 runs. We always wanted to see the opposition batting in the last innings and we should avoid it. This is Test cricket and anything can happen. We might have got a target of 100-150 runs if they had batted well while being in the follow-on. Why should we take any risk? We tried to have them bat in the last innings.

“Many things can happen on the final day – the wicket may breakdown, it may start turning, the fall of quick wickets… we wanted them to take the risk. We wanted to play risk-free cricket,” he added.

While Bangladesh are optimistic about their chances, Zimbabwean head coach Lalchand Rajput believes they still have a good chance to win. “Cricket is a game of uncertainties. You never know what will happen. It just takes one or two big partnerships. It’s happened. If you look at the earlier games like Pakistan-Australia, they really saved a Test match. Khawaja batted the whole day. So we hope somebody stands up and bats a session, because it’s just a question of three sessions. So if you can bat one session, then slowly we can [do it]. But we’ll be positive, and hopefully we can save the Test match,” said Rajput.

“We don’t think about the pitch now. You just have to go to a mindset that you play on the merit of the ball. The pitch is not in our control, it’s uncontrollable, so the main thing is to back your defence, back your instinct, play the ball on merit. If the ball pops up or something, it’s unfortunate, but at least you’re there to try and defend. Hopefully we go with a positive frame of mind to play each and every ball as it comes, and play sessions. Wait for the loose deliveries. You’ve got to try and score runs as well, and hopefully we bat sessions,” he added.

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