Mushfiqur applauds bowlers' toil
Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim has said he was surprised by the discipline shown by seamer Mohammad Shahid, and praised Mustafizur Rahman's ability to adapt to Test cricket quickly. Mushfiqur added the seven batsman/four bowler combination paid dividends in the Chittagong Test.
Shahid strung 50 dot balls in a row from his sixth to his 14th over on the first day, a spell that tightened the screws on South Africa. With legspinner Jubair Hossain attacking from the other end, the cracks began to appear. From 104 for 1 with Dean Elgar and Faf du Plessis at the crease after lunch, the visitors slumped to 248 all out by the end of the day and Bangladesh had seized control of the Test.
Shahid went wicketless, although two catches were dropped in the slips off his bowling. Mushfiqur felt his efforts deserved better reward: "I was definitely surprised [by the seven maidens]. I haven't seen many bowlers in the world bowl like that on such a flat wicket. You have to give Shahid credit for bowling according to a plan. He was also unlucky but we hope that in the next game we can take those chances and back him up.
"Shahid has been bowling quite well since his debut. It is hard to hold on to your form, especially in the spinner-friendly wickets in our country. If the pace bowlers can provide us with two or three early wickets, spinners can support them in every game. The whole bowling attack gets better and that's what any captain would want."
The bowling attack was also made richer by the addition of Mustafizur, the in-form left-arm quick. He took three wickets in four balls - Hashim Amla, JP Duminy and Quinton de Kock - turned the match upside down and was named Man of the Match. Mustafizur became the first cricketer in history to win that award on both Test and ODI debut.
"A left-arm seamer can play an important role in a bowling attack," Mushfiqur said. "Mustafizur is now in good form. The newer players in the South Africa team are having trouble facing him. I hope he continues with this form in the second Test.
"Mustafizur himself has said that it is easier to take wickets in ODIs than in Tests. And when the pitch is not helpful, it becomes even harder. Test batsmen will handle his variations, but the good thing is he is a quick learner.
"He has realised that to get Test wickets, you have to keep bowling well, keep up the pressure. By continuing in this way, he will be successful in both formats. He can maintain a good strike-rate."
Bangladesh's strong show in the Chittagong Test meant Mushfiqur wanted to continue playing seven batsmen and four bowlers. With the No. 1 ranked allrounder Shakib Al Hasan among the XI, they effectively have seven batsmen and five frontline bowling options. Ironically, it was that luxury that made Bangladesh go in with eight batsmen previously, putting undue strain on Shakib.
"This can be considered the best combination, if you see the result," Mushfiqur said. "If you are talking about the best teams in the world, they also play with a seven-batsman and four-bowler combination.
"Both batsmen and bowlers have done well. But if condition demands, we can play eight batsmen and three bowlers. Actually it depends on players' form and team performance. On this wicket against South Africa, this was our best combination,"
Mushfiqur was pleased with how well his inexperienced bowling attack stuck to the pre-match plan and said they deserve a longer rope.
"We tried to slow down the run-rate when we don't get early wickets. Shahid, Mustafizur and Taijul bowled very well. The bowlers have done well in this Test match. Whether we get wickets or not, we have to bowl in this way. Except Shakib, all the bowlers have played less than five Tests. They need a bit of time after which I am sure they will do well."
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84