'Dew made conditions almost unplayable' - Shakib
Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan has said the ground conditions at the Shere Bangla National Stadium are "almost unplayable and unfit to play" with regard to the evening dew. In fact, he proposed that the subsequent games in the tri-nation tournament start earlier to avoid such a situation.
"It was almost impossible to grip the ball as the dew started at 6:00 pm and we had four spinners in our team," Shakib said. "If the conditions remain like this, even 300 won't be difficult to chase. I even discussed the matter with [Kumar] Sangakkara, who agreed. We might speak to the officials and try to change the timing of the games to a 12:00 pm start."
His opposite number, Sangakkara, admitted that the dew was a big issue. "I had spoken to the groundsman earlier and therefore decided to chase," he said. "Tomorrow this could happen to us. I can understand Shakib's views but I don't know what you can do about it [changing the time].
"Of course, if the start time changes, it would make for better cricket. But I guess you take the good with the bad. You do feel sorry for the fielding side as dew kicked in the evening."
India captain MS Dhoni had expressed his concerns yesterday. "It would be good if we can start the match at 11:00 am, so that it gets over by 8:30 pm or 9:00 pm, at least an hour earlier than what it is now," Dhoni said. "That is the time it really gets wet, but we have to play at whatever timings are given to us. We don't decide on these matters."
The dew certainly played its role today, killing the excitement during the chase as the spinners found it difficult to grip the ball. But the game was lost while batting. It was the first game of the tournament and, ideally, it should have been exciting.
However the dull, drab and low-quality contest witnessed half the crowd, which was never strong to begin with, heading for the exits mid-way during the chase. Perhaps it was the cold that was the catalyst behind the exodus, but the quality of play certainly wasn't rivetting enough for them to brave the elements and come in numbers or stay till the finish.
Bangladesh suffered from the old problems that have derailed their progress at the international level. Their top order struggled, rather surprisingly, against bounce on such an easy-paced wicket. The first four wickets all fell to short-pitched deliveries.
Interestingly, around the time of the toss, the top order were practicing pull shots. They stood in line and kept pulling the balls which were thrown at them on to a net flung to their left. One was curious whether they were expecting short deliveries on this track or were they simply practicing big swings to the on side?
And when it came, it didn't seem like a plan. "On these wickets, you can't go with a short-ball plan," Sangakkara said. "But we found out that they were facing some problems with bounce and Suranga Lakmal later exploited it well."
Chanaka Welegedera bowled one short in the fourth over and Imrul Kayes was slow on the pull. The ball brushed the shoulders en route to Sangakkara. Another short ball, in the seventh over from Nuwan Kulasekara, saw Kayes mistime another pull but it cleared midwicket. The third bouncer though, in the 13th over, undid him as he got a fatal top-edge trying to pull.
That seemed to kickstart a collapse. Lakmal got one to kick up to Raqibul Hasan's shoulder height, who stabbed it straight to slips, while Shakib upper cut another lifter straight to thirdman. Mohammad Ashraful and Mahmudullah did the repair job, but on this wicket, with dew waiting to play havoc later in the day, 260 was never going to be enough.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo