Sri Lanka v Bangladesh, 2nd Test, Colombo, 4th day March 19, 2013

Bangladesh fall to old weakness again

The general approach against left-arm spin in Bangladesh is to play safe. Against Rangana Herath, they neither took the safety-first approach nor were successful in hitting him out of the attack

Bangladesh probably had three of their coolest heads to deal with a difficult fourth day on a wicket that was deteriorating and against an attack that knew exactly how to use it. But none of Mominul Haque, Nasir Hossain and captain Mushfiqur Rahim stayed in the middle long enough, and it was the ninth time out of ten that Bangladesh failed to take a Test to the fifth day in Sri Lanka. The defeat in Colombo will not take the sheen out of the Galle draw, but it opened old wounds and reminded how hard it is to develop a new habit, and get rid of an old one.

There were reasons to rely on this trio. Playing just his third innings in Test cricket, Mominul had displayed promise by hitting half-centuries in his first two outings. His calm demeanor has been a welcome addition to a line-up that is dominated by trigger-happy batsmen. Nasir has been in form this season, having just scored his maiden hundred. He has been reliable at No. 7, taking on the difficulties of batting so low down the order, and has mostly given the team runs from a position or situation from which Bangladesh haven't had too many in the past.

Mushfiqur didn't make much in the first innings after hitting the country's first Test double century in Galle, but he hasn't done badly for too many innings in a row. So a lot was expected of him as well. He and Mominul survived long enough on the third evening to give an inkling of a scrap on the fourth day.

What happened was far from a scrap. Rangana Herath claimed the wickets of the three batsmen, starting with Mominul. The left-hander was caught at short leg and though Mushfiqur contested the decision later in the press conference, the choice of shot should have been called into question too. Throughout the Test, Mominul had seen enough reason not to play Herath off the back foot. Mushfiqur (in the first innings) and Mohammad Ashraful (in the second innings) were bowled as they were rooted to the crease.

One would straightaway call Nasir's attempt to biff Herath over mid-on or midwicket a very poor shot, but given the propensity for these strokes among Bangladeshi batsmen, young and experienced, he could earn a pardon in the dressing room. But the timing of his dismissal riled his captain, because Bangladesh had to encounter the second new ball soon after. As someone who has regularly taken on the new ball quite well, Mushfiqur needed Nasir after the 80th over.

Mushfiqur batted out another hour after Nasir had been dismissed, but his resistance or attempt at aggression at that stage was never going to be enough. The dismissal was poor once again, the batsman coming forward and ball hitting both bat and pad.

Bangladesh gave Herath seven wickets in the innings and 14 overall in the Test series. From Ashraful's lack of footwork to the wicket of Mushfiqur, the batsmen didn't know whether to go back or prod forward, whether it was wise to charge, whether to attempt to flick Herath or smash him. It prompted the obvious question: why don't Bangladesh, the country with so many left-arm spinners, play left-arm spin properly?

It is Herath's quality, repertoire and control that makes him better than most of the left-arm spinners that the Bangladeshi batsmen play at home. As Mushfiqur said at the end of the game, he lands it on spot regularly and the variation isn't of the fancy kind. He uses the crease very well, and knows exactly how much to flight the ball.

Because Bangladeshi batsmen struggle against left-arm spin, first-class teams, clubs and every other league side rely on two or three left-arm spinners in every game. Whenever a "lefty" (a popular term in Bangladesh for left-arm orthodox spinners) comes on, the batsmen stiffen up.

The general approach against left-arm spin in Bangladesh is to play safe. Against Herath, they neither took the safety-first approach nor were they successful in hitting him out of the attack. It could have been a different day had they offered a more assured foot forward.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 20, 2013, 7:24 GMT

    Of Course its an EXCUSE, but its ALWAYS THE UMPIRES` Decisions` which mostly goes against Bangladesh, Suppose see, if Mominul was given Not Out- He could have scored More 70-80 runs and it could have changed the situation of the match. The umpires should be more careful next time onwards.

  • Dummy4 on March 20, 2013, 4:45 GMT

    Congrats to the Lankans! As for BD, nothing to be ashamed of, most people didn't expect the team to even compete in this test series considering the amount of injuries to key players, specially when they missed Shakib who is not only their best batsman but also their best bowler and also the absence of the service of experienced pacer Mashrafee, terribly effected them! But a very good effort at the end in both the tests although some bad decisions was made against them (why all the time these decision is made to the weaker teams?) ! In the 2nd test, for the wet outfield BD missed few runs which costs them heavily, otherwise this match might go to a very interesting & more competitive finish! Anyway, well done Tigers with all their very promising young guns! ICC should give more tests to BD if they want better result from them. Any way, all the best for the one day series and hope that BD would be more competitive in this shorter format and i wouldn't be surprised if BD wins the series!

  • Shoaib on March 19, 2013, 20:46 GMT

    The answer is simple, Bangladesh are bread on the diet of too much one day Cricket and now T20. They were taking so many risks since the pitch had something for bowlers and defending just made it more difficult compared to a flat wicket. But it just shows just how bad our domestic structure is which is sad because most of our pitches these days are somehow flat and players have been scoring countless of runs.

  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2013, 18:09 GMT

    Sarfin is quite right. It's not about how many SLA you produce or how many times you play them. It's about playing the right shot at the right time and against a bad delivery. people say Mahmudullah, Ash had very good delivery to got themselves out, but I would say brain freezes and pre-meditated strokes casued their demise. Mahmudullah didn't know what he was doing, whether to go forward or back, he was caught in the middle. Ash was caught when he was playing on backfoot. Nasir played an outragious shot. Mominul was a bit unlucky. We played too many rough strokes, simply we did not show applicaiton at all. This is pathetic. The pitch was no crap, we played crap.

  • Sarfin on March 19, 2013, 17:32 GMT

    Mominul doesn't have a calm demeanor, Isam. If you've seen his innings, you should notice that he plays too many shots and takes a lots of chances. And it is not unusual to struggle against a quality bowler. It doesn't matter whether you are used to play that particular type of bowling a lot or not. That's why Indians struggled against England (Swan and Monty), Pakistan, Australia and New Zealand struggled against South Africa (Styen and Co.). Its all about the quality and experience. Herath is a very good bowler and it is no wonder he struck us hard when the condition favored him. We need to find some decent seamer and our batsmen should show some application. They allowed Herath to take away the match with some stupid shots.

  • Syed on March 19, 2013, 16:10 GMT

    Its confusing how a country that produces so many 'lefties' and play them every first class game struggle against them. To be blunt, Bangladesh are weak at every sort of bowling... but the current team are starting to improve their standards. The problem for Bangladesh is that if they play a worldclass bowler, they play against them based on their reputation not how they performed on that day....

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