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Bangladesh's aggression fails, adds to picture of crumbling home advantage

Najmul Hossain Shanto claims defending was inadvisable on difficult Dhaka wicket

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Mominul Haque was undone by an unwise decision to pinch a single to Hasan Ali  •  AFP/Getty Images

Mominul Haque was undone by an unwise decision to pinch a single to Hasan Ali  •  AFP/Getty Images

Bangladesh lost seven wickets in the 100-odd minutes they batted on the fourth afternoon, but looking at the number of chances they offered Pakistan, it could have been a far worse day. Amidst their dominance, the visitors managed to drop one catch and had one caught off a no-ball.
In addition, the Bangladesh batters survived four close catching chances around the bat, two lbw shouts, and a run-out chance. Conservatively speaking, Pakistan had sixteen chances in 26 overs.
Bear in mind that the visitors couldn't use their fast bowlers due to the quality of the light. Some of Bangladesh's dismissals also stood out due to the match situation, and their overall batting health. The openers were far too tentative, particularly Shadman Islam who has looked apprehensive in a short career as a Test opener.
But the flipside didn't work either. Captain Mominul Haque got run out after his team were 20 for two in the first half an hour. Common sense perhaps didn't allow for that risky run, but Bangladesh were about to take it up a notch. Mushfiqur Rahim mistimed a slog sweep to short midwicket, one ball after he survived a close lbw shout.
Liton Das ran out of his crease, but could only drive a return catch to Sajid Khan, who cleaned up with a six-wicket haul. Bangladesh's choice of shots, particularly their preference for the sweep and the slog-sweep was a bit perplexing given their recent batting difficulty against Pakistan.
Najmul Hossain Shanto later explained that they were trying to be aggressive since there was no point being defensive on the Shere Bangla National Stadium pitch.
"I think it was always a difficult wicket for batting," Shanto said. "We saw it from day one when Taijul bhai and Miraz were bowling. I think we could have bowled better. I don't think this was a 300 for 4 wicket. When we batted, we tried to play our normal game. There was no specific plan. Everyone played their natural game.
"Everyone was aggressive because it was the type of wicket where you couldn't continue to defend the ball. Run scoring was important. I think the defensive mindset gave more possibility of getting out. I think this is why the batsmen tried to play shots but unfortunately it didn't come off."
Shanto said that they decided to play the sweep shot as it would have fewer risks on the spin-friendly wicket. "We were not overly aggressive. I felt that we played shots we are good at, but it wasn't executed well. There is lesser possibility to be lbw on a turning wicket, so everyone relied on the sweep shot," he said.
Shanto said that the Bangladesh bowlers instead should have done better than allowing Pakistan to score 300 runs in the first innings.
"I think our bowlers should have been more accurate, both spinners and fast bowlers. They should have contained the runs. There was help for the fast bowlers. I didn't think it was a 300 wicket," he said.
Shanto said that he feels that Bangladesh can do better in the second innings but only when the overnight batters can get them over the follow-on mark.
"I think we can survive (in this Test). We have to start well tomorrow. If Shakib bhai and Taijul bhai can add a few more runs, it will help us in the second innings. That's the main thing: we have to bat well in the second innings," he said.
But the spin plan isn't really working. Offspinner Sajid has used Dhaka's conditions well, just like overseas spinners like Nathan Lyon, Rahkeem Cornwall and Rashid Khan have when they've routed the home side. Bangladesh pride themselves in being very strong at home, but in almost every series in the last five years, their plan to rely heavily on raging turners has backfired. The fifth day of the Dhaka Test is their last opportunity this year to show that they are masters (or at least survivors) in their own domain.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84