Bangladesh missed a lot of their key bowlers but it was the batters, who made life hard after the top-order collapsed twice, according to coach Russell Domingo. Bangladesh went down to Sri Lanka by ten wickets in the second Test, their third successive loss at Shere Bangla National Stadium, in Mirpur, a ground considered their fortress.
Domingo said that the fast bowlers provided far too many deliveries on middle and leg, allowing the Sri Lankan batters to settle down for long. He rued missing out on the bowling attack that was part of the historic Mount Maunganui Test at the start of 2022, with Taskin Ahmed and Mehidy Hasan Miraz out due to injuries. Shoriful Islam too was ruled out of the second Test, after fracturing his hand in Chattogram.
"In my career as a coach, I have never seen that many runs being scored between midwicket and fine leg. They bowled far too straight, far too many easy balls to score off. I didn't think it was a 500-run wicket. We probably didn't bowl as well as we should. We didn't put them under enough pressure. Those are the small swings that change games," Domingo said at the end of the second Test.
"We won a Test in New Zealand with Ebadot, Shoriful, Taskin and Miraz. In this Test, we have only had Ebadot. It is a totally new bowling attack (compared) to the one we had in a win."
Bangladesh also missed Nayeem Hasan's services in Mirpur, after he too got injured in the Chattogram Test. They picked Mosaddek Hossain in his place, which boomeranged after the batting allrounder couldn't contribute with bat or ball. Domingo said that Mosaddek was expected to bowl at least 15 overs a day, but he fell short.
"Mosaddek played because we needed someone who could bowl as a fifth option. We thought he could bowl 15 overs a day. I am always reluctant to bowl with four bowlers.
"It hurt us here again as Mosaddek didn't bowl as well we'd hope he'd bowl. We thought he could do Miraz's job with the ball. Miraz was a big loss - he bowls a lot of overs, he picks up wickets, and bats," he said.
But the slide started with the batters, who slipped to 24 for 5 on the first morning, and 23 for 4 on the fourth evening. Domingo said that they have to change things around to get better results.
"We have to do something different, whether it is to change the order around. We can look at one or two things. You won't win Tests from 24 for 5 and 23 for 4 in both innings. We have to change something. It has happened too many times in the last 6-8 months.
"We are getting in good positions, and then we have a bad session. We are competing for four days and then have such a bad session that there's no way back. I am sure it is equally frustrating for the players. They are fighting back, but getting behind the game at certain stages," Domingo asserted.
Bangladesh are also struggling due to Mominul Haque's loss of form. Mominul has now had seven consecutive single-digit scores in Tests, but Domingo backed the Bangladesh captain, repeating what is the general consensus, that he is one big knock away from coming back to form.
"There's no doubt he is feeling the pressure and expectations. The Test captain is always under scrutiny in Bangladesh where the team hasn't done well in the last 10 to 15 years. No matter how tough and brave you are, it will wear you down.
"He is a tough man and a fantastic player. I am backing him to come good at some stage. He probably needs to take a step back in the next week, to think fresh and reassess where he is with his cricket at the moment," said Domingo.
The bigger surprise was how Bangladesh, despite batting first, couldn't quite crack through the Dhaka pitch, which was a surprisingly sporting one. "It was a very good pitch for batting and bowling. A fast bowler got ten wickets in the game. Shakib got five wickets. We can't complain about the wicket. These are the types of pitches where your skills improve," said Domingo.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84