After drawn Test, captains call each other defensive
Angelo Mathews has criticised Bangladesh for declining to orchestrate the highest successful chase in cricket's 137-year history. Mathews also labelled the Chittagong surface "a road", after which Mushfiqur Rahim countered by saying Sri Lanka had not bowled well enough to win. The two-Test series finished at 1-0, after Bangladesh chose to bat for the draw, instead of going after a target of 467. That total would have also been their highest ever second-innings score.
Sri Lanka had also delayed their declaration on day four, ostensibly, in part, to let Dinesh Chandimal score a third Test hundred. The move allowed Sri Lanka no more than eight overs at the hosts on the fourth evening.
"We didn't really declare late," Mathews said. "If they wanted to chase the 467, they could have, but they did not show any intent. They had 98 overs, and we actually could have bowled more than 98 overs, but they didn't show any intent. We were one-nil up in the series and they had to make a move. But we declared yesterday itself, rather than waiting for today. We were being positive and we were going all out for the win.
"We know that we could get them all out if they were going for runs. You could just block and survive on this wicket, but you can't actually go for big shots because the wicket was a slow one. We had different kinds of bowlers - we had Ajantha Mendis, we had Dilruwan Perera and Suranga Lakmal who were bowling well - so if they wanted to go for it, we were up for the challenge."
In response, Mushfiqur questioned the timing of Mathews' declaration. "I am also surprised that they only made us play a few overs [on day four]," Mushfiqur said. "If I was captaining Sri Lanka, I would have left it with 20 overs to go. I think I would have been happy with a 350-400 lead.
"I think we never get the credit we deserve when we bat well. I don't think they bowled in a way to take 20 wickets."
Mathews suggested Pakistan's recent historic chase of 302 at 5.25 runs an over, against Sri Lanka, indicated 467 was a chaseable target. "If they wanted to, it was possible," Mathews said. "You'd rather try to square up the series [even though you could] lose 2-0. That's what the Pakistanis did in Sharjah. If they wanted to make it 1-all they could have at least showed [some intent], but they didn't want to. We were just trying to get them all out, but the wicket wasn't assisting the bowlers."
Mushfiqur said his team had taken their Test record into account while formulating their fourth-innings strategy. "There may not have been a big difference between 1-0 and 2-0 for them, but not for us. I am disappointed at losing the series. If we had played well in the first Test, we could have drawn the series."
The second Test featured six centuries, including a triple-hundred, and Mathews said the Chittagong surface was not conducive to a result. He had expressed similar frustration last year in Galle, when that Test against Bangladesh had also ended in a draw.
"I'm very disappointed with the draw, but I actually thought we could start another Test match on the same wicket," Mathews said. "It didn't assist the bowlers at all. It wasn't a sporty wicket. It was a batsman's paradise. It was very hard and once the seam got soft, the bowlers didn't have any chance.
"The wicket was flat as a road. We couldn't do much. The bowlers gave their hearts out. Unfortunately that's all we got. We might have missed Rangana Herath's experience, but Mendis and Dilruwan bowled well."