Donald: 'No idea why Shakib didn't bowl enough'

Shakib bowled just six overs on day three even as Ireland kept accumulating runs

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Shakib Al Hasan expresses disappointment, Bangladesh vs India, 2nd Test, Mirpur, 2nd day, December 23, 2022

File photo - Shakib Al Hasan's decision to bowl just six overs in the whole day left everyone clueless  •  Associated Press

When Shakib Al Hasan sent down the first over on the third day in Mirpur, there was a palpable feeling that the end of the Dhaka Test was just a matter of time. He had bowled menacingly on the second evening, registering figures of 7-2-11-2 and pairing up with fellow left-arm spinner Taijul Islam to knock over Ireland's first four wickets in 6.3 overs.
On Thursday, Shakib got the fifth ball of the morning to rip across Harry Tector. He conceded just one run in his first three overs of the day but bowled only three more till stumps. Ireland had started the day trailing by 128; they finished with 131 ahead with two wickets still in hand.
Shakib was captaining the side and was on the field for most of the time. Given he didn't show any signs of a niggle, the decision to hardly bowl was puzzling. Even Allan Donald, the team's fast-bowling coach, was clueless.
"I must admit I have no idea why he didn't bowl enough today," Donald said. "He seems fit. He came off a couple of times for bathroom breaks. I think maybe he wanted to give the attack a chance to do the job. [He bowled] 13 overs, for 2 for 20-odd. I thought the second new ball is going to be a big factor. I thought it was a new-ball type of pitch. It didn't spin as much as it did last night. You could score runs once you are in on this wicket. I will leave your question to Shakib (smiles).
"What Shakib does amazingly well is shut one end down. He is such an experienced campaigner, varies his pace smartly, although there was no real turn all day long, I thought he would have been the guy that controlled one end.
"I thought [Mehidy Hasan] Miraz, Taijul and the three seamers tried their guts out today. It didn't quite happen. Tomorrow morning is going to be a big morning. They are 130 [131] runs ahead. We have to go bang, bang quickly, and get batting."
Lorcan Tucker, who became the second centurion for Ireland in Test cricket, said he was glad Shakib didn't bowl much. "He bowled beautifully last night. I can't say I am disappointed that he didn't bowl so much today. I am not going to question their decision."
Donald, though, wasn't disappointed with the overall performance of his bowlers but felt that they could have set a heavy leg-side field after lunch.
"I thought at some stage after lunch, especially when Tucker was in, we could have set a field where we could have maybe shut off one side of the ground a little bit more, make him hit through the off side a little bit more. That brings the outside edge into play.
"But I can't fault the hard work that these guys did today. It was one of the flattest wickets I've seen. And there's not a lot of life for the quicks in here, especially halfway down. And we've seen a couple of balls not carry to the keeper. But that's Test cricket. No one said it is easy. So I thought they grinded out the day beautifully and yes, once again, one massive tick to Ireland. They fought hard today."
The lack of creativity was evident in how Taijul and Mehidy were expected to simply run through the Ireland line-up. They ended up bowling 57 overs without much actual success as Ireland built sizeable partnerships on the third day. Whether Shakib bowls on the fourth morning is anyone's guess. But there will be questions asked within the team management and the BCB, which often likes to get involved in team matters.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84