Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Mirpur, 3rd day January 29, 2014

Bangladesh err by picking three quicks

Bangladesh's decision to go in with an extra quick in place of Abdur Razzak has backfired badly

First-innings figures of 81-5-311-1 are a damning assessment of Bangladesh's pace bowlers. The decision to play all three seamers in the squad has been questioned a number of times, but it will probably be only answered after the game is lost.

The number of catches that went down can be another way of explaining the poor performance. But whatever happened in the last two days has not, apparently, disheartened the pace bowlers. Robiul Islam and Al-Amin Hossain looked to have tried the hardest, with Robiul even exchanging words with Mahela Jayawardene.

He tried everything in a six-over spell during the afternoon session. In between the staring match, he bowled bouncers, slower balls and changed his lengths. But it was not to be for the inexperienced pace bowler against a batsman who became the sixth highest all-time Test scorer.

"I tried a whole variety of deliveries but he wouldn't budge," Robiul told ESPNcricinfo. "So I thought, I can try a bit of staring, just to throw him off. I didn't say anything but he scolded me. Then I tried to get even, which didn't work. I mean, you cannot do that to great players. They never lose focus. When he was walking back to the dressing room, I apologised for my earlier behaviour, and being such a senior player, he said that fast bowlers are supposed to be this way, so don't be sorry.

"We are not disappointed, we can't be. We are international players, and we will bounce back in Chittagong. We have played well against them last year, in Galle, so I am confident that we can do well."

Despite the poor results, the selectors seemed to have a reason for picking each of the three quicks. Robiul Islam's full fitness confirmed his place in the line-up while Rubel Hossain's place came on the back of wickets in one-day cricket. Al-Amin bowled earnestly in his debut Test, and followed it up with good domestic performances.

Either Al-Amin or Rubel replaced Abdur Razzak from the last Test team, a decision which is most probably due to the three left-handers among Sri Lanka's main batsmen.

Razzak's Test record against Sri Lanka, and his middling first-class form, should have been enough to cast him aside but Bangladesh management, over the years, has banked on a very basic theory. They prefer having left-arm orthodox spinners against teams with more right-handed batsmen, and right-arm spinners against left-handed batsmen. There was even talk of picking Mahmudullah based on his bowling form in the domestic first-class competition, but Al-Amin was selected instead.

He bowled well on the second day, with two catches dropped and a wicket off a "Finn no-ball" and carried over the confidence into the third day. Robiul and Rubel bowled well in patches too but those patches got smaller as the day progressed and the runs piled on.

Rubel's Test average now stands over 81, and his bowling action is unrecognisable with the one he had when he came to Dhaka several years ago. He has long lost his sling, and despite the progress in one-day cricket, he requires basic work to bowl, and bowl well, in the longer version.

Al-Amin has been promoted from an understudy role to being the No. 2 in the pace bowling attack, and while he has tried as much as he can, there is a lot of work left to be done in his action.

With so little time left between international matches, tours and series, particularly in the next three months, Shane Jurgensen will have his work cut out. So will Richard McInness, the BCB National Cricket Academy head, who will have to work with the pace bowlers who will be left out of the senior side.

But the buck stops with the team management. Their theory of playing right-arm spinner against left-handed batsmen, and left-arm spinners against right-handed batsmen doesn't hold much water these days.

Bowlers must have the strength and guile to bowl to both types of batsmen. Had the focus been on playing the best available bowlers, then they have already made a mistake by picking Rubel.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sachit on January 30, 2014, 4:07 GMT

    Where is Talha Jubair? He used to be one of the promising prospects few years ago.

  • shameem on January 30, 2014, 3:23 GMT

    Waiting to watch for this test match for a long time. Discovered Mahmudullah not in there --- 3 seamers --- got surprised ---- thought about headless selectors. What can I do except "giving up" following the test match? And I did rightly so. NO REGRET!!!!

  • Dummy4 on January 29, 2014, 21:44 GMT

    When has Bangladesh got pace bowlers that can bowl in subcontinent conditions lets alone outside it. We dont have any good pace bowlers so why pick 3 pace bowlers? This once again is ridiculous, 'think outside the box' for this makes no sense what so ever. If you wanted to play 3 pacers, you should have picked nazmul!

  • Shoaib on January 29, 2014, 20:09 GMT

    Why pick Rubel Hossain? do selectors even know his pathetic test record? another myth about him is that he's quick. Speed gun in this test match showed Rubel bowling below 130 kph lol wow quick stuff I guess lol

  • Dummy4 on January 29, 2014, 19:59 GMT

    This was expected totally! 3 pacers never work! These are my suggested swaps for the next match : Naeem has to be brought in inplace of Marshall.... Razzak inplace of Rubel and Shahadat or Nazmul inplace of Robiul.. The only bowler who succeeded as a pacer for the country in this match is Al-Amin and stick with him for 1 more game.. Tamim, that experience is totally going to waste if you play a shot like that..Now the more important thing is given that In Shaa Allah Bangladesh saves this test, these 3 changes ahead of the next match is a must... Chittagong pitch is gonna help the spinners and Raz Bhai has to be brought in and Shahadat has performed well vs SL always and in CTG too and was good in the recent FC matches! Nazmul just scares SL batsman by default an example was the Asia Cup 2012!! As a proud supporter, I would request BCB selectors to make these bold decisions. Rubel - Limited overs player, Robiul-Not consistent! C'mon Bashar!!! Faruque! Minhaz Bhai!!

  • Sam on January 29, 2014, 19:56 GMT

    1. Rubel is a burden for tests. Averages 78 with the ball ! 2. Taskin Ahmed should have been drafted in. Shubhashis Roy is another prospect. 3. Ban should included a spinner at the expense of a pacer. Razzak doesn't have stats in test like he possesses in ODIs. Time to bring in Saqlain Shajib or Arafat Sunny ?

  • Josh on January 29, 2014, 19:03 GMT

    "When he was walking back to the dressing room, I apologised for my earlier behaviour, and being such a senior player, he said that fast bowlers are supposed to be this way, so don't be sorry".

    Mahela is not just a great cricketer but also a true legend.

  • Dummy4 on January 29, 2014, 18:07 GMT

    The utter stupidity in which the top-order Bangladeshi batsmen played makes me nauseous! Performance for individual players go up and down, it happens - but an entire team, lacking in their ability to perform in their professional field and playing irresponsibly is unacceptable. There were no demons in the pitch, external pressure or lack of talent. It was a psychologically egocentric, over-confident bloated approach in which the top order approached the ball that amuses me. Sri Lanka is no New Zealand, they know the sub-continent pitches here and they can play spin. Will Bangladesh survive the next two days ? No chance!

  • A on January 29, 2014, 17:34 GMT

    Dropping Mahmudullah was certainly a bad decision, loosing a good all rounder and adding weak bowling is not helping. Where is Taskin Ahmed? I agree with Robiul and Gazi though, we didn't bowl that bad, we did field that bad and they simply batted that well. Keep the fight alive Tigers!

  • Amir on January 29, 2014, 16:58 GMT

    I think BD is playing three pacers to give them experience. We have enough spin bowlers. Unfortunately, the pitch is not very helpful to fast bowlers even though SL quicks did a good job due to silly shots from our players. If we had held on to the catches, we may have cut down the lead but not by much. This type of matches erodes the confidence of our quick bowlers even though I like the fight shown by Ribiul and Al-Amin. I would prefer to go to the next match with only Robiul and Al-Amin and replace Rubel with Mahmudullah who can also help with the bat. If we can prepare slow turning pitch it would be helpful. Batting pitches are good for batsmen who have discipline and our batsmen have shown that they can not control themselves.

  • No featured comments at the moment.