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Bangladesh find chaos in tranquil Galle

Despite being Bangladesh's most prolific second-innings scorer, Tamim Iqbal seemed lost in the chaos on the final day in Galle Getty Images

Saturday morning in Galle was peaceful as ever. Many newly-wed couples posed in front of serene backgrounds inside the fort, where tourists milled around, some of them having breakfast. The glass windows of souvenir shops were being cleaned.

Outside the fort, buses moved around, picking up passengers once in a while. Many walked over to the cricket ground to catch a glimpse of the Test match, where Asela Gunaratne was finishing his first over of the day.

Gunaratane was sending down gentle, Salim Malik-type medium pacers, but going by how Soumya Sarkar, unbeaten on 53 overnight, lasted just two balls, it seemed there was chaos in his mind. It was as if he was trying to cross the Mirpur-10 intersection in rush hour rather than batting in a ground in tranquil Galle, beside a 400-year old fort overlooking the Indian Ocean.

After nearly getting caught at short square leg off the first ball, Sarkar missed the next, and despite getting bowled, even wanted to ask for a review. He walked off confused, not sure how he had missed the delivery.

The chaos continued, with Mominul Haque, Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah perishing in the first hour. Shakib had said the first session on the final day would be crucial, but it turned out to be terminal for the visiting team. Mushfiqur Rahim survived for nearly two hours, while Liton Das showed his defensive game for about 90 minutes. But both fell to soft dismissals.

With 98 overs to bat out, Bangladesh's top seven were required to bat out at least 84 balls each. Apart from Mushfiqur, none of them showed the application to last that long. And even when they did, their defensive game lacked conviction.

When the fifth morning began, Tamim and Sarkar had played 44 and 46 balls respectively, so their job wasn't done. But after Sarkar's short stay ended, Tamim's defensive game lasted eleven deliveries.

Tamim is Bangladesh's most prolific scorer in the second innings, with four centuries, including a backs-to-the-wall 206 against Pakistan in 2015. But in an almost similar situation, he seemed caught up in the confusion.

Shakib is Bangladesh's best fourth-innings scorer, but he too lasted only 12 balls. He fell to a good catch at leg gully, but against Rangana Herath, who can find zip off a slow pitch, a prod away from the body is always high-risk.

Just after lunch, Mushfiqur's execution went wrong. He had played 97 prior balls with correctness, but a mistake, even as small as the one he made, with Lakshan Sandakan sliding one down leg, cost him another big innings, and possibly a shot at saving Bangladesh single-handedly.

Mominul also has enough experience to steer the team through a difficult final day, having done so against Sri Lanka in the last Test between the two sides. But that was three years ago, when he was in good form and regularly playing international cricket. Now, he is going through his first trough since his debut at this venue in 2013, so his dual lbw dismissals should not be seen as a long-term issue. He was due such a dip, especially seeing how he has had to show utmost patience waiting for international matches as he only plays one format.

While Sarkar and Liton haven't had enough time to lay out their Test credentials, Mahmudullah has been showing worrying signs of going through a form dip as long as the one that spanned more than a year from 2013, which also, incidentally, started in Galle.

The Bangladesh team management has to make bold statements ahead of the Colombo Test, which begins in four days. Giving a strong message to Sarkar that scoring two fifties is meaningless unless it contributes to the team's cause, perhaps telling Mahmudullah what is expected of him in Tests - like he was told with reference to ODIs in 2015 and T20s in 2016.

If a shake-up doesn't come quickly, Bangladesh could well be staring at another hiding in Colombo. It will waste all the hard work many members of this team and their coaches have gone through for the last two years.