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'There's a bit of insecurity batting in foreign conditions' - Russell Domingo

Bangladesh coach explains his side's decision to bowl first, a call which came as a "surprise" to the home camp

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Bangladesh have never lost a toss in Test cricket in South Africa, but have rarely batted first  •  AFP/Getty Images

Bangladesh have never lost a toss in Test cricket in South Africa, but have rarely batted first  •  AFP/Getty Images

Bangladesh's decision to bowl in Durban was prompted by their hesitancy towards batting first in foreign conditions, according to coach Russell Domingo. They have won all their tosses in Test cricket in South Africa, largely deciding to put the hosts in, but doing so today was still a "surprise" for the home camp as per debutant Ryan Rickelton.
"I think there's a bit of insecurity batting in foreign conditions," Domingo said after play. "There's a lot of young players coming up - [Mahmudul Hasan] Joy, Shadman [Islam] and [Najmul Hossain] Shanto are playing their first Test here. We need to develop the self-belief to go out there to front up on tough wickets. It is something that we have tried to address as a coaching team and senior players. [But] there were merits to [both] bowling and batting first.
"Over the last ten years, it is 58-42 per cent in favour of batting first in Durban, so there's not too much in it. There was a little bit of cloud cover today [which would have helped the pace bowlers early on] but that half an hour delay gave the clouds the time to burn off. It didn't help us."
Rickelton however felt it was more important to think about how the pitch would behave in the latter half of the Test; usually, the Kingsmead pitch helps spinners.
"I was personally quite surprised [when Bangladesh chose to bowl]," Rickelton said. "In Durban we usually bat first. The wicket takes turn as it wears on. We would have batted first if we won the toss.
"A lot of people are saying they haven't seen this type of pitch in Durban [before], maybe that's what pushed them to bowl first. They were probably trying to get the most out of it with their three seamers. But we were happy to bat."
Dean Elgar and Sarel Erwee duly laid a platform for South Africa with a century stand, despite the interruptions of the first half hour. There were freebies on offer, and the pair took full toll, adding 95 in the first session. Rickelton said that the 113-run opening stand set up South Africa nicely.
"Dean says it a lot and it is true: we start quite slowly as a cricketing group. He was determined to show that that wasn't going to be the case again. They were irritated with the delay up front. I think it made them more determined.
"Hats off to them. Hundred opening stand in any format of the game is a great base to build off. They played very well. They put the bad ball away. They dug it out. They definitely set us up for the rest of the game."
Bangladesh did fight back with three wickets in the middle session, and got Rickelton in the last session to give the day, despite their errors with the ball, a more in-the-balance look. Like Rickelton, Domingo felt the delay at the start had an impact.
"The first half an hour break didn't do any team any favours. I think there's a little bit of a difference between a 10am and 10.30am start. We didn't start well too. We bowled pretty average in the first session.
"But then came back superbly well after lunch. I suppose it is an even day at the moment. They only got 230 [233]. If we can nip out two in the morning, it puts us in a good position."
Domingo praised Mehidy Hasan Miraz who was Bangladesh's MVP on the day, having bowled 26 overs for figures of 1 for 57 and getting Keegan Petersen run out with a brilliant dive-pick-up-and-throw from point.
"It was one of the best run-outs I have seen. He has been an amazing cricketer for us with the bat and ball, and in the field," Domingo said. "He has taken some good catches. He has great energy and attitude. It was a special run-out from a guy who is really confident in his game at the moment."
Rickelton meanwhile rued missing out on a big knock in his first innings as a Test cricketer. He got off the mark with a reverse-swept four, something that offered a glimpse of his abilities, but he fell to Ebadot Hossain for 21.
"I was planting my front foot quite early. I wasn't playing off the back foot just yet, so I took a risk," he said, explaining why he went for that reverse sweep. "It isn't the riskiest shot for me. I said that things aren't going to look in my favour if I am nought off 10 or 15 balls. So I whipped it out, luckily it worked. It got me away.
"I am really sad that I couldn't manage to get through to the end of the day, but it was a nice start for me. Hopefully I can take some momentum from this."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84