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Mushfiqur defends bowling selections

With questions on the make-up of Bangladesh's bowling, Mushfiqur Rahim said that things could have been different had Shahadat Hossain not picked up an injury

Soumya Sarkar played as the third seamer but had only one wicket to show on a pitch with help for seamers  •  AFP

Soumya Sarkar played as the third seamer but had only one wicket to show on a pitch with help for seamers  •  AFP

The second Test between Bangladesh and Pakistan was wrapped up at 2:04 pm on the fourth afternoon. But thoughts remained on what happened 30 minutes before the start of the game on Wednesday.
Mushfiqur Rahim, the Bangladesh captain, had opted to bowl on a pitch that did more for fast bowlers in the first two hours of the first day, than it did in the last couple of years. Still, Bangladesh went in the Test with just two pace bowlers. Mushfiqur, however, insisted the team had three seamers.
"It wasn't just the two pace bowlers," Mushfiqur said. "We took three pace bowlers if you consider Soumya (Sarkar). It was a unanimous decision of the team management. The outcome is showing it was a wrong decision. If it was a correct decision, there wouldn't be much talk.
"Everyone has a say. It is not my team or the coach's team. This is the Bangladesh team. Everyone has an input. We decide what everything things is good for the team. The selectors, coaches, myself are all there," he said.
Sarkar had to bowl in place of the injured Shahadat Hossain after two balls into the game but he did not have the numbers to back himself as a third seamer in a Test. He had only been used for seven overs in two ODIs while he only bowled one over in Khulna where Rubel Hossain and Mohammad Shahid were the pace bowlers.  In first-class cricket, Sarkar has 19 wickets in 34 matches with a five-for taken in November 2012.
Mushfiqur said that had Shahadat been fit, things could have been different. On the first day, Bangladesh took three wickets, two of which came in the first session.
"Many of you have said that we should have batted first after winning the toss," Mushfiqur said. "But it was the team management's decision; the wicket had a lot of help for the bowlers in the first two hours. We could have taken three-four wickets if (Shahadat Hossain) Rajib didn't get injured. If we could have bowled them out for a low score and taken a lead, this Test would have been different. But it didn't happen. The blame is on us."
"We decided the playing XI after seeing the wicket," he said. "We pick a 12-man squad and then decide the XI on the morning of the first day. We decide early whether we want to bat or bowl first. We speak to the curator about what sort of wicket it will be. All of us, including the senior cricketers, read the wicket. It is not a singular decision ultimately.
The other issue was in the spin department but Mushfiqur said that had Jubair Hossain not picked up an injury (heel), he would have been picked. Pakistan's Yasir Shah, the legspinner, found considerable grip on the Mirpur pitch to pick up seven wickets in the game.
"We needed to replace (Jubair Hossain) Likhon who got injured on the morning of the first day," he said. "Otherwise he would have played the game. We thought Shuvagata was the better option. Yasir Shah bowled well so Jubair could have had some benefit from this wicket."
Interestingly, Mushfiqur said the decision to prepare a sporting wicket in Mirpur was a result of criticism of the Khulna wicket. There was discussion about the wicket in talk shows in Bangladeshi TV channels and in the Pakistan media.
"There was a lot of talk about how the Khulna wicket was too flat where the bowlers weren't able to take 20 wickets," he said. "We wanted to create an opportunity to take 20 wickets while at the same time let the batsmen play freely too. This is what the team management decided."
Mushfiqur, however, said that rather than talking about the pitch, the focus should be on the Bangladesh players' failure in this game to score runs and take wickets.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84