A spin-friendly pitch in Chattogram is as acceptable as a green and bouncy track in Antigua, said Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes. He said that visiting teams are not surprised with these conditions when they come to play in the subcontinent, adding that batsmen didn't quite manage to play well under pressure against spinners during the Chattogram Test which Bangladesh won by 64 runs in under three days.
Rhodes was responding to questions a day after the Test that drew some flak for being so stacked in favour of spinners, who took 34 out of the 40 wickets in the game. In Antigua in July this year, the West Indies and Bangladesh pace bowlers had combined to take 24 out of the 30 wickets that fell, as the visitors went down by an innings and 219 runs.
"I think in the subcontinent you come to expect turning wickets, so it is no surprise," Rhodes said. "It is a turning wicket in Colombo where a Test match is going on between England and Sri Lanka. It is just a different type of wicket. I take you back to the Antigua Test where we played on very alien conditions: green and bouncy; a swinging Duke ball which nipped around a lot. It was very different.
"I think that's the beauty of playing around the world. There's lots of different ways of playing this wonderful game. Coming to Bangladesh and playing on different wickets did make [for] some intriguing cricket. When you feel a little bit worried about getting out [on a turning pitch], you tend to play in a manner that is a little bit counterattacking. Sometimes that looks like rash batting for Test cricket. But it is the pressure that you are being put under and you're trying to make that bowler not bowl as well. You counterattack a little bit."
Rhodes said that Shimron Hetmyer did put Bangladesh under the pump with his counter-attacking style, particularly in the second innings when he started to take on the spinners. "I thought Hetmyer's innings was very interesting. He counterattacked us. I was so glad to see him gone in the second innings. He could have caused danger if he lasted an hour.
"I thought Mominul [Haque] played wonderfully well when the pitch was turning on the first day. It was possible to score runs."
With the prospect of another spin-friendly pitch awaiting in Dhaka, Rhodes said their target of trying to win the series 2-0 shouldn't take the focus away from his plan to make Bangladesh a better side away from home. "We just have to make sure we are ready to play away from home. It is something that I am conscious of. But take nothing away from what happened. It is a really good win against West Indies," he said.
"I am very respectful for them as cricketers. They will come back hard in the next Test. We need to be ready for that. I want to win 2-0."
Rhodes said that Bangladesh could go with the strategy of a four-pronged spin attack if the conditions suit them, mainly because the four bowlers have complemented each other. He said that Nayeem Hasan, who became the youngest bowler ever to take a five-wicket haul on Test debut, offers something different than Mehidy Hasan Miraz, who has been the regular offspinner since 2016.
"Nayeem is a wonderful prospect. Five wickets on debut at that age is incredible," Rhodes said. "The way he fitted into the four-man attack was wonderful. He is different to Miraz. Both can play in the same team. Nayeem has height and bounce, which is totally different from Miraz, who himself has wonderful skills.
"History has shown that on most occasions, you play a Test with two spinners, three paceman and an allrounder. When the West Indies played with four quicks and really no spinners, it was their way of doing it. If we feel four spinners is the right way, it is our aggression and style of doing it, so what?"
But Bangladesh have concerns, particularly about the opening batsmen who have continued to fail in the three Tests played in the home season so far. Imrul Kayes and Liton Das didn't do the job against Zimbabwe while Soumya Sarkar, who replaced Liton, hardly made any difference against West Indies.
Rhodes, however, defended Soumya's dismissals, but admitted that Imrul's Test form was a concern given his recent ODI form. "Soumya got a good ball in the second innings," Rhodes explained. "He didn't do a lot wrong. In the second innings he went for a big drive, he nicked a turning ball, which happens. You have to get people time to settle in there. We will look at that situation, and all the members of the squad, and hopefully give you guys some sort of news on that.
"[Imrul] is finding it tough. We will look at his position definitely. Like all players who are not managing to get the runs, he feels upset and we feel for him. He is part of our team. We want him to do well. His ODI form was absolutely magnificent, and then you scratch your head about what's wrong with him in Tests. Every opener struggles, but we want to get it right."