Soumya Sarkar, whose lapse in concentration at the start of the third day started Bangladesh's slide, has lauded his captain Mushfiqur Rahim for helping the side avert the follow-on in Galle. Mushfiqur played the ball on merit and ultimately fell 15 short of his third century in three Tests.
He took 89 balls to score his first boundary - a clean six over Rangana Herath's head in the 72nd over - and then picked up the pace. He managed only 22 off his first 88 balls and then struck 63 off the next 73 to finish with 85 off 161 balls. Sarkar said that the rest of the batting line-up didn't have a set plan to attack or even play cautiously. That the batsmen still got early boundaries was down to a supply of bad balls from Sri Lanka. Conversely, Mushfiqur assessed the conditions well and built a steady innings.
"Mushfiqur bhai played proper Test cricket today," Sarkar said. "He took his time at the beginning. Although many of us hit a boundary at first, he survived for a long time and then hit a four [six]. Of course there is a lot to learn from him. He is an experienced player and he is our captain.
"Maybe some of us got a bad ball at the start and we hit a boundary, and maybe they bowled better at Mushfiqur bhai. In Tests you have to wait for the bad ball but maybe he got fewer bad balls. The ones who came later like Liton [Das] or [Mehedi Hasan] Miraz maybe got a bad ball early. But we didn't plan to attack while Mushfiqur bhai defended."
Sarkar's error in judgment - attempting to pull a Suranga Lakmal ball though it was too close to his hip - added to the list of his soft dismissals in the recent past. "It was the first ball of pace I faced today, so I shouldn't have played that shot," Sarkar said. "If I had maybe taken some more time before playing that, then maybe I would have connected.
"Since it was the first ball, maybe I did not connect. It was a mistake. If I didn't play that, it would have been good for me and even better for the team."
Shakib Al Hasan too fell to a soft dismissal, tickling left-arm wristspinner Lakshan Sandakan down the leg side to wicketkeeper Niroshan Dickwella. Sarkar, however, put the dismissal down to misfortune.
"Since there was no fielder at fine leg, Shakib bhai was able to read the wrong'un and may have thought that since it's away from the stumps he will get two runs from it," Sarkar said. "There was little chance to get out to that delivery.
"It was very unlucky. It's not a matter of experience; he is obviously a very experienced player. He was unlucky not to have connected, if he had connected it would have been good for everyone."
Mahmudullah then missed the line of the ball and was bowled while Liton Das played too far away from his body and nicked behind. When asked why Bangladesh haven't come to grips with building or re-building a Test innings, Sarkar said they were still working on it.
"We are trying; how much we are succeeding is for others to judge. We will try to bat longer than we have been."
Having conceded a 182-run first-innings lead, Bangladesh now need a massive effort to turn the tables on the hosts. "We have to give even more than we did when we started," Sarkar said. "If before we would have given 100 percent, then we have to give 120-150 percent to bring the match back in our favour or to win. So, of course, tomorrow there will be an effort to execute the plans we have so that we can bring the match back in our favour as soon as possible."