Shakib blames board for lack of review system
Bangladesh's captain, Shakib Al Hasan, blamed the Bangladesh Cricket Board for failing to pay for the use of the Umpire Review Decision System, after his side's hopes of an historic maiden Test victory over England were undermined by a succession of rough umpiring decisions that allowed their opponents to graft their way to a 21-run lead with two first-innings wickets remaining.
Shakib himself led from the front, claiming 4 for 99 in 57 overs of relentlessly accurate left-arm spin, but the talking points of the day were the ones that got away. Each of England's three key contributors on the third day - Bell, Tim Bresnan and Matt Prior - received a let-off that enabled them to post at least another fifty runs, and in the cases of Bresnan and Prior, neither man had made it into double figures at the moment that their good fortune struck.
"It could have been a little bit better, and if it was a little better, we would have got a chance to bat today," said Shakib. "You know what the decisions were and what they should have been, but I don't want to make any comment. You all saw it on the TV."
For the record, Matt Prior was trapped on the crease on 9 by a reverse-swinging delivery from Rubel and went on to make 62; Bresnan survived a bat-pad catch on 5 before finishing the day on 74 not out, while Bell's innings could have ended on 82 had an lbw appeal by Abdur Razzak been upheld.
That final decision prompted Bangladesh's coach, Jamie Siddons, to march out of the dressing-room and gesticulate his disgust to the umpires. "There were probably three or four decisions I was unhappy with," Siddons told the BBC. "Hindsight makes it easy for me to be critical but that's the game. Umpires do make mistakes, but it made it hard for us today but we're still in the game, it's still pretty even."
Nevertheless, in Shakib's opinion, the blame lay less with the umpires, Rod Tucker and Tony Hill, and more with the board who baulked at the prospect of paying for the umpiring technology, but were nevertheless happy to pay to have the stadium facilities repainted overnight and decked out in flowers, to welcome the arrival of the ICC president, David Morgan.
"If they had taken the referral system, they would have had to spend some money because the system is expensive," he said. "But, yes, I think it was more important for us [than all these flowers]."
"We would have been in a very good position if [UDRS] was in use here," he said. "I think we would have asked for a referral four times with full confidence, and three of them would have come to our way for sure. It's really bad for us that we did not use the referral system, which we could have done."
Bangladesh's sense of injustice was also ramped by Andy Flower's pre-series suggestion that weaker teams are less likely to be given the benefit of the doubt by the umpires. "I've felt that my whole career," said Siddons. "I definitely never felt Australia were on the wrong end but, with Bangladesh, I definitely think it comes out against us. I don't know why.
"The spirit was down this afternoon but they fought back and they seem pretty positive about what they can do in the next two days. England have got to bat last but hopefully we don't let them put on too many runs for the last two wickets."
As and when England do bat again, and assuming they are set a defendable target, then Shakib will be demanding a greater contribution from his fellow left-arm spinner, Abdur Razzak, whose 37 overs were milked for 127 runs, with only the wicket of Alastair Cook to show for his efforts. The pre-match plan had been for both spinners to operate in tandem, but Shakib instead had to rely on the reverse-swing of Rubel Hossain to keep England under wraps as the day wore on.
"I was expecting more from Razzak, especially when we both were bowling," said Shakib. "It was very important to have a partnership between us to create pressure from both ends, but he ended up making the same mistakes from the first Test, because the main thing is patience. Whoever loses his patience first will be a loser. Maybe he thought he'd try to bowl wicket-balls, but every time he conceded a four, the pressure came off."
In mitigation, the conditions were not as spin-friendly as had been predicted, but that did not surprise Shakib in the slightest. "Whenever we hear the ball will spin, it doesn't," he said. "It's nothing new and I am not too disappointed with it, although we have been playing Test match cricket for 10 years, so we should know by now how to take this advantage. When we go to England, they are sure to prepare a bouncy wicket for us.
"Still, everything is possible - win, draw or loss," said Shakib. "I don't think we are in a very bad position, because the match is still very balanced and both teams are under pressure. But we have more pressure, because we cannot always play consistently well."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo. Go to http://twitter.com/miller_cricket to follow him on Twitter through the England tour of Bangladesh.