Bangladesh's new Test opener Jahurul Islam should have been lauded for his patience in the Colombo Test and for bringing that aspect of batsmanship back into the team. Instead, his untimely dismissal in the second innings in Colombo has cast him in a negative light.
With less than an hour left to play on the third day and Bangladesh seemingly heading towards safety in the second Test, Jahurul tried to loft Rangana Herath straight down the ground. But the ball gripped, spun and beat the batsman who was stranded well short of the crease. It opened up the game for the hosts, allowing them to jam their foot in the door and they did it too. Mahmudullah was dismissed next ball, and Bangladesh were never in the game on the fourth day as Herath ran through the batting order, picking up seven wickets.
However, Jahurul's team-mates appreciated his work, and his intent to bat long has not been shaken: "Everybody is supportive because I tried to bat with patience. As long as I keep batting there will be someone else at the other end and if we can build a partnership, the opponent will always feel the pressure and runs will come. We are not Australia, that we need to score at four runs an over. We must kill time and runs will come automatically."
"I was at the wicket for a long time, faced every one of their bowlers, which gave me confidence. Test cricket tells you to work hard to build your innings. Then it gets easier. I was out in that easy period."
The dismissal was crucial because it gave Sri Lanka the breathing space they were looking for all through Jahurul's partnerships with Tamim Iqbal and then Mominul Haque. He could be blamed, but he couldn't have directly prevented the others from getting out. Jahurul's nearly four-hour stay at the crease was impressive given that this was his comeback into the Test team after almost three years. He has improved greatly as an opener in recent times, scoring heavily in domestic cricket at that position. What has also caught the eye is his ability to change his approach to meet the needs of the game, a point that often goes unnoticed.
These attributes make him a potential candidate to finally solve one of Bangladesh's big issues: Tamim Iqbal has been without a regular opening partner in Test cricket after Imrul Kayes lost his place due to poor form. Nazimuddin and Junaed Siddique have been given chances but failed miserably. While this is the first time he has opened the innings in international cricket, Jahurul has been an opener for Rajshahi Division in first-class cricket.
He missed out on a maiden international batting milestone when he fell to Herath for 48. He hopes to convert such starts into a big innings soon, not just because that will give him a cushion in terms of his place in the side, but also since that would free up his mind. "You need some big innings, which I haven't had in my career so far. I got out after scoring 40-odd in many innings, though I have scored big in domestic cricket. This is why I won't say I am mentally settled like someone like Nasir [Hossain].
"He scored a hundred against Pakistan and got his place cemented. I won't say there is a big gap between his and my ability. But he achieved something and found belief in international cricket. I am yet to achieve anything significant. Once I get it, I will be settled."