It will be tough for Bangladesh cricket fans to think and recollect when exactly did their cricket team perform well with the bat in the fourth innings of a Test. One of the memorable fightbacks by the Tigers in the fourth innings with the bat was against Zimbabwe in Dhaka, where Javed Omar’s epic vigil earned the Tigers a hard-fought draw and the first ever Test series win.
Then four years later at Grenada in 2009, Bangladesh chased down a total successfully to script a memorable whitewash in West Indies. Otherwise, the Tigers’ fourth innings story has always been disappointing. They have failed to save Test matches even on batting friendly tracks.
Bangladesh lost the first Test at Galle and a section of cricket fans and experts in Bangladesh might be satisfied thinking the visitors took the game to fifth day at least. But if one considers the nature of track at Galle and Bangladesh’s experience in Test matches, it was yet another head-scratching performance by the Tigers.
In the Test series against India and West Indies in 2015 and Australia last year, the Galle track behaved wickedly and made survival an uphill task for the batsmen. The common belief was that the track there would be the same and the Bangladesh batsmen would find it difficult to counter the threat of Rangana Herath, Sandakan and Dilruwan Perera.
But surprisingly, Sri Lanka prepared a flat track, just like four years ago where Bangladesh posted 600 plus runs for the first time in their Test history.
Here Sri Lanka batted first and posted a total of 494 runs. With the likes of Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah around, repeating the performance of 2013 was not impossible.
The opening pair gave a solid start, but all of a sudden they lost their way. However, the team finished the fourth day in a commendable fashion, and all they needed was enough resilience to save the Test. But on the final day, the batting display of the visiting team was very disappointing.
Soumya Sarkar dealt the first ball of the day from Asela Gunaratne lazily and almost gave a catch to the short-leg fielder and on the next ball, Asela’s gentle medium pace got the better of him. Soumya’s lacklusterness was contagious and it spread like an infection among others.
Mominul Haque was struck in front, Shakib al Hasan was nowhere in position to handle a delivery which jumped from the rough, Mahmudullah’s confusing footwork cut short his stay, Mushfiqur Rahim was dismissed trying to tuck one down to leg side and just when Liton Kumar Das was settling down, he played a needless stroke to help Herath surpass Daniel Vettori’s Test scalps tally.
Just after lunch, Bangladesh bundled out and suffered a defeat by 259 runs.
Occupation at the crease is an art and it requires a lot of patience and solid technique to execute.
Technically, a batsman needs to play with a straight bat, keep the ball on the ground and concentrate on rotating the strike. While playing the marathon knock against West Indies, Hanif made sure that the ball finds only the centre of his bat and the edges and shoulders are spotless. Technique, coupled with concentration level, helps to produce match-saving knocks.
The Sri Lankan batsmen spent 1914 minutes at the crease at Galle while Bangladesh spent 1336, which indicates how quickly the Tigers lost their concentration levels. In fact, the habit of focusing too much on shorter formats hardly helps in developing such sort of temperament.
Tamim Iqbal or Soumya Sarkar’s stroke-filled exhibitions are glorified, but if they try and hold on to their wicket, they are widely criticised. Here, in Bangladesh, the cricketers are always encouraged to display their adventurous side, no matter how hard the head coach tries to make them understand the value of prolonging the innings and cutting short the aggressive intent and childishness.
Even after 17 years of Test cricket, a matured Test culture has not yet developed in Bangladesh. It’s sad to think, Bangladesh is still learning about the intricacies of playing the longest format of the game.