A spinner-friendly pitch in Mirpur has produced an exciting Test match but has also highlighted the difference in pitches prepared for domestic and international matches in Bangladesh. Tamim Iqbal questioned this discrepancy at the end of day three, saying batsmen don't get enough chances to practice on sharply turning pitches in first-class cricket.
Bangladesh were bowled out for 221 in their second innings, their lower order collapsing in the wake of variations in pace, bounce and turn. Nathan Lyon utilised the conditions well, triggering a spell of play when there were three wickets for no runs in 16 balls.
Tamim conceded that such pitches do give the Bangladesh an advantage, but he would prefer the players being exposed to them in the domestic circuit first before having to deal with them in a Test. Currently, many of the surfaces in the National Cricket League and the Bangladesh Cricket League are batting friendly, and help fast bowlers in the first few weeks of the season before easing out into featherbeds. The instances of domestic matches being played on rank turners, such as the one for the ongoing Test, are rare.
"I think there is home advantage but my question is, how many times do we get to play in these wickets in domestic cricket?" Tamim asked. "We only play in these wickets in international matches, because it gives us an advantage over the foreign side. We are busy with grassy wickets in domestic cricket although we never play in those in international matches at home.
"This thinking has to change. We tour once or twice a year in places where we confront grassy wickets. I feel that if we want to play international matches in these surfaces, we should do the same in domestic cricket. At least one or two grounds should have these wickets so that it creates a habit."
There has been a clamour for first-class pitches with more bite so that the Bangladesh batsmen can tested against the swinging ball. However, it has not come to pass with spinners dominating the wicket-takers' list for most of the last 10 years. And using a pitch like the one in Mirpur for domestic cricket could create issues for the BCB's Grounds Committee, even if in Tests, it brings Bangladesh's spin attack to the fore and earns the curator praise. Tamim had warned of such a situation during England's tour of Bangladesh last year.
Against Australia, many of the Bangladesh batsmen faced unplayable deliveries from seamers and spinners. Pat Cummins got one to leap at Tamim from a good length and the left-hander could do little except tickle a catch to the wicketkeeper. Imrul Kayes got a similar delivery in the first innings, and there were some on the third day that leapt out of everyone's reach after pitching on the rough. Tamim said that the track will continue to play this way on the fourth day and the home team's spinners will need to be more accurate to create chances and take wickets.
"The wicket is unpredictable, anything can happen. We have to be patient because one wicket has brought two or three in a cluster. We can bowl better than we did today."