Bangladesh learning batting nuances from Sangakkara
In addition to being a very good opening batsman, Tamim Iqbal is also an articulate and pragmatic speaker. It has no disadvantages to any party involved (especially the journalists), except on the day before the match when he doesn't talk as part of a personal ritual. But on a day when much needed to be explained from the Bangladesh's point of view, it helps the other batsmen if he takes the questions, and the heat.
The message he carried on the third day was not an apology. It was typical Tamim, an admission of how disappointed he was with the outfield, of how much Jahurul Islam's approach is being appreciated in the dressing room, and where the difference lies between this approach and the one taken by Kumar Sangakkara. It's a bunch of thoughts going through several batsmen's minds as they walk back to the pavilion after being dismissed, though Tamim also has the ability to express them in words.
Tamim's opening partner Jahurul had batted well for 236 minutes before going blank, just for a moment, and it ended his carefully-crafted innings. It triggered a mini-collapse as Mahmudullah too fell next ball, unable to cover the line of a Rangana Herath delivery. Mominul Haque and Mushfiqur Rahim each offered chances late in the day but Nuwan Kulasekera and Angelo Mathews spilled them.
The pitch almost forced the batsmen to play in an ugly fashion, although Tamim termed it as one that is "hard to score off, but easy to bat on." He saw one big difference between how Sangakkara batted for more than seven hours and what Jahurul did during his time at the crease. "Sangakkara tried his best to take at least one run every over," Tamim said. "We later discussed it in the dressing room. You as a batsman feel fresh when you rotate the strike.
"You are not bogged down for three or four overs on the trot. When you are bogged down for three or four overs without scoring, your mind blocks up. You end up playing a silly shot. I am sure everyone saw Sangakkara closely, and it is the sort of thing you learn when playing against a batsman of his caliber," Tamim said.
Having just recovered from a wrist injury and after getting out early in the first innings, Tamim didn't do badly himself. Tamim hardly curbed his positive approach, imposing himself early on the Sri Lanka bowlers. He didn't let Herath settle into a regular length, attacking the left-arm spinner whenever he found it necessary.
When the two openers were at the crease, Bangladesh were batting at a circumspect 2.57 per over. There was one over of intent when both Tamim and Jahurul hit a six each off Herath, but once the former got out, Jahurul stopped playing shots. After Tamim got out, Jahurul scored 17 runs off 65 deliveries before suffering from what can only be described as a brain-freeze. As much as he tried, Tamim couldn't explain Jahurul's dismissal and to be fair, it was not his explanation to make.
Jahurul and Ashraful had crawled to five runs off 31 balls, and the pace of the partnership reflected how poorly Ashraful moved at the crease. He is a naturally aggressive batsman who is going through a career renaissance by stifling his original approach, so one would have to give him time to adjust. Mominul's efforts to force the ball into the gaps enlivened the third wicket stand. He and Mushfiqur were careful not to give it away towards the end, which would have sealed the game and a series win for Sri Lanka.
The fourth day has all the makings of being the last day of the Test series. Bangladesh have taken small steps in their approach to batting in Test cricket, but days like the third day of this Test are usually the cue for things to slide. If there has been progress in this series, Mushfiqur, Mominul and Nasir Hossain have the chance to prove it.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent