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Abu Jayed provides pace spark in gloomy times for Bangladesh

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Domingo: We need structural changes to become a strong Test team (4:47)

The Bangladesh coach speaks to the media after day two of the first Test against India (4:47)

Abu Jayed is one wicket away from becoming the first Bangladeshi fast bowler to take a Test-match five-wicket haul more than six years. Should it arrive, that landmark might be the only solace for a team that was bowled out for 150 on the first day, and has conceded 407 runs in 88 overs on the second day.

Jayed has already removed Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane, and could have completed the five-for had Imrul Kayes held on to a simple catch in the slips off Mayank Agarwal's edge on the first evening. Jayed, though, is no stranger to catches being dropped off his bowling, having struggled with the same problem in New Zealand earlier this year. Slip catching off pace bowlers is just one of the minor issues Bangladesh have to grapple with. The bigger picture is the near-eradication of pace bowlers from their Test cricket.

Pace bowling is on the wane in Bangladesh in recent years, especially thanks to former head coach Chandika Hathurusingha's insistence on crumbling, slow and turning pitches at home since the 2016 England series. It has meant that on more than one occasion, the Bangladesh team management has gone for an all-spin attack. Pace bowlers have been continually short-changed in domestic cricket too.

Jayed, as a result, is one among a group of pace bowlers who are currently living an endangered life in Bangladesh cricket. They have to sit out long periods in the home season, before being asked to burst through experienced batting line-ups in overseas Tests.

The fact that Jayed became only the second bowler to remove Rohit, Kohli and Pujara in the same innings is a testament to his effort and accuracy with the new and semi-new ball, which has come from years spent in the domestic circuit's longer format. In the last five years, he is one of only two pace bowlers to take more than 100 first-class wickets in Bangladesh, and has 140 at 30.89. Farhad Reza, with 137 wickets at 24.63, is the other.

Jayed has also revived Sylhet Division's bowling attack, and they are probably the only domestic side in Bangladesh that relies more on pace bowlers than spinners, especially after the recent emergence of Ebadat Hossain and Khaled Ahmed.

Jayed is still in his early days in international cricket, but given the dearth of long-format pace bowlers, he has already become a leading bowler in coach Russell Domingo's eyes.

"We think he is a really good Test bowler," Domingo said. "He has consistent lines and lengths. He bowled really well in this game. I have read a few articles where it was written that he hasn't picked up wickets in the domestic system, but we think he is one of our leading Test bowlers, and he will have a big role. He is definitely a guy we need to back."

Domingo said that good teams have at least six fast bowlers available to play Tests, but Bangladesh still haven't got that aspect of their bowling right. "To win Tests, you need a bowling unit. For Bangladesh to do well in away Tests, you need up to six bowlers. India, Australia, England and South Africa have done well because they can pick from a group of five or six fast bowlers under any conditions, home and away.

"Bangladesh's strength has obviously been spin bowling at home, but [fast bowling] is something that we need to develop in our game. We need to provide opportunities for fast bowlers with pitches where they can become a factor in the game, and bowl 18-20 overs a day. I think the wickets in Bangladesh, at the moment, don't allow them to do this. They bowl six or seven overs in a four-day game."

Domingo pointed to India's shift from being a spin-reliant side at home to one that has some of the best fast bowlers in the world, operating successfully both home and away, as a model for Bangladesh to follow. Not just to bring variety to the attack, but to do well overseas too.

"There's no doubt that in the past that India backed themselves to win at home on spinning pitches. Now I don't think that's the case," he said. "I think they are backing themselves against any team on good pitches in the country. There's definitely a mindset shift.

"It is something that Bangladesh also needs to do, by trying to develop fast bowlers, prepare wickets that help fast bowlers. India no longer rely on spinners. They will prepare good wickets and back their fast bowlers to do the business."

Since the last time a Bangladesh pacer took a five-wicket haul (Robiul Islam against Zimbabwe in April 2013), Bangladesh's fast-bowling stats don't make for happy reading. During this period, Bangladesh's pace bowlers have taken 105 wickets at 60.03, the worst average among all the Test teams.

Whether Jayed gets his five-for or not, the bigger picture remains constant. Domestic matches are still being played on slow and low pitches that aid spinners. The Bangladesh team management will keep looking for spin-friendly pitches in home Tests, and pick attacks that are accordingly suited. To discover the next pace bowler from among the youngsters who get inspired by Jayed's performance in Indore, the authorities need to create an environment that encourages quicks.