Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Mirpur, 1st day January 27, 2014

Trouble at the top for Bangladesh

Bangladesh's collapse on the first day highlighted an ingrained problem in their Test batting, where they have failed to get to 100 without the loss of four wickets in 91 instances out of 161 Test innings

Bangladesh have a top-order collapse roughly once every two innings. When Mominul Haque was dismissed, Bangladesh were 59 for 4 in the 18th over, and it became the 91st time out of 161 Test innings that Bangladesh's first four wickets fell before the score had reached hundred.

The easy assumption after the latest collapse would be to call it complacency, particularly after having a decent 2013 batting-wise and an even better previous Test series against New Zealand three months ago. The worst batting performance last year was in the first Test in Zimbabwe last April, when everyone surrendered to seam and the threat of a shorter length.

The same theme followed in this first innings as Shaminda Eranga and Suranga Lakmal bowled a shorter length and produced bounce from the Mirpur wicket with more wrist-action on the ball. All of the batsmen tried to play shots, but weren't manufacturing them, to their credit.

But the day's scorecard is dismissive enough of their batting approach. Monday's collapse was the result of bad habits, proper planning from the opposition and impetuous strokeplay, though the current top-order contains batsmen with more ability than it did in the past. Tamim Iqbal's hook shot didn't connect well, Marshall Ayub missed a ball that moved in just a bit, Shamsur Rahman played away from the body - his natural reaction to anything pitched up - and Mominul pulled the ball when he shouldn't have.

Bangladesh weren't too troubled by the bounce till they started pulling and hooking. Tamim is a naturally aggressive batsman, and could have taken the tougher route of hanging back and waiting for the bad ball. But as an opener who likes to go after the bowling, he thought the best way to answer Sri Lanka's stifling length would be attack the short ball. The result was a catch at long leg, but he would have tried it on most occasions.

Marshall is in need of runs at No. 3, Bangladesh's newest entry into that crucial spot. He is a natural middle-order batsman, but due to his technique and domestic runs, he was selected to plug this gap. He has the second innings left in this Test to prove his credentials, and that innings will be pivotal for his future.

Shamsur started off with edges, timed the ball for a while before he edged once more. For a debutant opener, he deserves more time to showcase his attacking approach at the crease.

These four wickets were followed by the routine recovery act. Shakib Al Hasan and captain Mushfiqur Rahim added 86 for the fifth wicket stand but when you start from 59, ending on 145 doesn't offer much help. The pair's approach should be followed however as they only went after short and wide ones, and batted within themselves during the partnership. This was the sort of discipline that Mushfiqur would have expected from the top four. Shakib started off quickly before reining in his strokes for the rest of the afternoon, until missing a sweep shot off Rangana Herath.

Mushfiqur got a borderline call when the ball appeared to take an inside edge, but replays proved inconclusive. His exit confirmed that Bangladesh would not have a lower-order resurrection, and when they were bowled out for 232, the blame laid squarely on the misfiring top-order.

Luckily, none of the Bangladesh top-order batsmen give excuses. Tamim is in a quest to achieve greater heights as a batsman while his new partner Shamsur has made 267 earlier this month, and is a heavily experienced domestic batsman. So is Marshall, while Mominul's recent record gives some assurance that he has the knack for a big score.

Most importantly, they have to make sure a second collapse is not repeated, and ensure that the short ball is handled a lot better the next time around.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dru on January 28, 2014, 5:03 GMT

    Bangladesh's better batters in Sakib and Hassain are batting too low and always end up in a crisis mode. Why dont these two be promoted up the order and the batting line will not be under the same presure with the top order blown away. I reckon an option could be Sakib at 3 followed by Hassain and then Rahim, who is also the keeper so it would make sense for him to bat lower. Dont think you can do much about Thamin other hope he comes good. Batter like Thamin are best alone to play their game and then accept the failiures as part of the bargain. If you take a naturally agressive stroke maker and curb him he is no longer what he is - a natually agreessive stroke maker. Yes its frustrating but that's part of the bargain.

  • Bludging on January 28, 2014, 2:35 GMT

    Noticed a LOT of empty seats for this test match. Do Bangladeshis want to play test cricket or not?

    Start turning up or try your chances in the I Cup.

  • Akber Ullah on January 27, 2014, 21:00 GMT

    True it's day 1 and is too early for one, to predict the result. However they just showcased the problems they have and may face in the WC15. Yes there was one or two unlucky decisions but when an top order batsman can't face a bouncer at around 130kph and making it seem 140+ shows how badly bangladesh need to prepare different wickets in the domestic leagues. The mindset of the batsman need to be clear. If there leaving the ball outside off and bouncers then why attempt a hook and get dismissed with out a major contribution. Shaminda Eranga did what Tino Best did when BD had to chase 240 odd against west indies. Bowled aggressively. Shaminda and Tino did what new zealand bowlers did not do. New Zealand fell in the trap of dishing out BD bread and butter hoping one will edge however shaminda and tino made the batsman feel unwelcomed and kept thinking of new ways of dismissing the batsman. Both hit the deck hard to create some life of the wicket. however 230 is still a total.

  • A on January 27, 2014, 19:08 GMT

    'Baundele' - made an interesting comment. The problem is 'throwing the wickets away'. 8 out of 10 wickets were genuine wickets. Amd we only played 60+ overs. This is the problem. Be more Positive AND more Patient - look at Mush's innings, he barely scored anything for the first 20/30 balls and then started getting the bad ones which were punished.

  • Dummy4 on January 27, 2014, 18:14 GMT

    I read the word "attacking" too often - Tamim's natural game is to "attack"; Shamsur needs more time to show 'his attacking" game at the crease. Fact is aggression in the absence of common sense while playing their strokes has always landed Bangladesh in trouble. Tamim needs to understand that test matches test a player's patience. You cannot hit your way out of trouble (unless you are talented like Sakib - God bless the man). Tamim should be grounded for a few matches just like Sehwag. But even Sakib should have stayed longer for the sake of the team. He should have gone for a ton as this team has only him and the valiant Captain to rescue them. For Sakib to do justice to his ranking as the world's top all rounder, he has to start scoring tons. The rest of the pack will never learn. They are all legends in their own minds, come out swinging and leave the crease looking like fools.

  • Dummy4 on January 27, 2014, 16:50 GMT

    "Tamim is in a quest to achieve greater heights as a batsman" A bit cold no assuming it was a bit sarcastic dig at his dreams of scoring 400, 500 runs...

    Anyway solid report, and interesting view on the stats of top order collapse.

  • Josh on January 27, 2014, 15:13 GMT

    Sri Lanka only played 3 test matches in 2013 -- Bangladesh are just looking for excuses. Nothing more than finding something/somebody to blame.

  • Josh on January 27, 2014, 15:05 GMT

    Shamsur Rahman is NOT an opening batsman. His technique is poor and he should swap places in the batting line-up with Mushfiqur. Test cricket is about the mindset, technique and hard graft - not just come in and swing the bat and hope for the best. That is t20. Test match cricket is about testing the discipline, character, physical, mental and technical abilities of a cricketer. BD don't seem to know/care about such things.

  • Unni on January 27, 2014, 14:40 GMT

    Excuses are flying keep it up.Last year SA played very less number of tests but they never had any problem .So it is not the number of tests they play but the domestic cricket which produces mediocre cricketers is the problem.

  • Amir on January 27, 2014, 13:49 GMT

    MD. Isam is correct. It is a bad habit. We tend to play shots instead of defending, taking singles, doubles and rotating strikes. Unfortunately we do not play enough tests in a year to help build our mindset. Playing on domestic circuit is one thing and playing against world class opponent is entirely another. However, we have enough good players that will learn from this first innings and put up a better showing in the second innings. Kudos to SL. They came with a plan and stuck to it. Their bowlers had discipline. Go Tigers!

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