Litton was wary of the threat posed by Rishabh Pant, who scored 93 off 104 balls in India’s first innings and is yet to bat in the chase, but stressed that early wickets on the fourth morning would ramp up the pressure on India.
“We knew that we had to give them a 200-220 target,” Litton said. “The score that we actually put up, it is still difficult. They will be under pressure if we take one or two quick wickets tomorrow. I think this target is enough for a win. If Rishabh bats like he usually does, it will be difficult. The scenario will change. We are bowling well, and the pitch is helping us. Let’s see what happens.”
Litton said that Shakib Al Hasan’s decision to have in-and-out fields – there were three fielders posted in the deep from the first ball of the India chase – was a smart ploy.
“We know the quality of our bowlers,” he said. “It is always difficult to bat in Mirpur. At the same time, we didn’t have a big score to defend. If you give away runs while trying to attack, there’s not much left to defend.
“We knew that the wickets would fall to the close-in fielders, but we kept some protection. It was a good call, as it made the batters doubt.”
That Bangladesh are a position to push for a win is down to Litton’s counterattacking 73 off 98 balls. He also urged the lower order to bat in similar counterattacking fashion as he felt that chances of survival were low on such a deteriorating pitch.
“When [Mehidy Hasan] Miraz came to bat, I said that there’s no point defending for too long,” Litton said. “They [India] were bowling very well. We had to counterattack. Miraz couldn’t do it, but I said the same thing to [Nurul Hasan] Sohan bhai. He scored some vital runs.
“I said the same thing to Taskin too, that if we defend too much, they will get on top of us. You need runs on this wicket – not one where the game will be a draw or you can bat for long. It doesn’t matter how, but we need runs. It is difficult to defend 100 runs, but the scenario is different when you 150 to win. It would have been better had the lead been 200. This Test wouldn’t go into the fifth day, so I kept saying to Taskin that we must attack them. I think we were successful.”
Bangladesh have missed several chances in the field in this Test series and Litton wants them to be sharper if they are to defend 144 on the fourth day.
“It is very difficult to field when the ball has turn and bounce,” Litton said. “Ball comes quickly. They are behind by 100 runs so we need to field well to win the game.”
After India lost two quick wickets in their chase, they bumped up Axar Patel to No.4. Axar is unbeaten on 26 off 54 balls with three fours. Mohammed Siraj suggested that Axar was promoted up the order to maintain a left-right combination to counter Bangladesh’s bowlers.
“[Sending Axar early] was a call from the management, but to me it seemed that if there is a left-hander and right-hander it will be difficult for the bowlers. We may have lost two wickets more than we should have, but we shouldn’t be worried. Axar is set and showing good intent. There is still Rishabh and then Shreyas. So not to worry.
Siraj also felt that India had let Bangladesh’s batters get away on the third afternoon but insisted that there was no cause for panic. “Their wicketkeeper [Nurul Hasan] came and started attacking,” he said. “After that even Litton did and with that momentum shifted a bit. We conceded 30 runs extra. But no reason to worry.”
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84