After an ending like yesterday's, when Bangladesh lost three wickets inside the last four overs to hand the initiative back to the Sri Lankans, one can imagine the dressing room full of people at sixes and sevens trying to convince someone to come out to the press conference and provide an explanation for the events.
Whether it was by accident or design, a more suitable person than batting coach Thilan Samaraweera could not have been offered up. As someone not given to resorting to diplomacy, Samaraweera -- who as a former Sri Lanka Test batsman would not have dreamed of playing some of the shots played near the end of a day -- in expressions and words provided the essence of how a professional cricketer or former cricketer should react to the batting at the end of the day.
Bangladesh, with Sabbir Rahman and Imrul Kayes at the crease, had gotten to 192 for two in response to Sri Lanka's first innings score of 338 and with four overs left on the second day of the second Test, all that was needed was to play out the overs and go to their hotel rooms secure in the knowledge that they were ahead in their 100th Test. Instead, Imrul Kayes played a rash pull shot to chinaman bowler Lakshan Sandakan and was out leg-before, before Taijul departed first ball and Sabbir was out caught in an obvious leg-side trap in the next over. Since Taijul's dismissal, 22 runs were scored off 20 balls before the umpires called an end to the chaos, 18 of them scored by Shakib Al Hasan off eight balls.
"I have no clue at the moment. I think one rash shot made trouble for us – Imrul's dismissal," Samaraweera said after coming into the media room with a bemused smile and chuckling, ruefully perhaps, when a Sri Lankan journalist said something to him in Sinhala. "I can teach skill, but when you are batting in Test cricket you have to know what the opposition is doing, you have to have that awareness. I think you have to be intelligent in the middle and we are lucky we finished with five [down], I thought [we would] finish with six."
That last bit may well have been a pointed remark at Shakib, who seemed to be doing his best to get out. He hit the hattrick delivery for a cross-batted boundary, hit another off Sandakan's next over before being dropped by Upul Tharanga on the midwicket boundary from an attempted pull for six two balls later. Then he played another hook off Suranga Lakmal in the last over of the day, with the top-edge bouncing a few feet in front of the onrushing square leg fielder. Even by Shakib's standards, this was irresponsible batting. While his previous exhibitions of recklessness were batted away by coach Chandika Hathurusingha or captain Mushfiqur Rahim, Samaraweera, when asked how he saw Shakib's 'little cameo', at first struggled for words while smiling ruefully, shook his head and said all that he could say.
"I don't have words, honestly. I have run out of ideas honestly."
He also rubbished notions of playing the 'natural game', a favoured refuge of Bangladesh batsmen when they get out in a manner not befitting the match situation. "You can play a natural game but you have to be aware of what the opposition is doing. That is cricket. You can't play every day like your natural game. It is not like one-day cricket; in five-day cricket, mentally you have to be strong."
Soumya Sarkar had scored his third successive half-century and gotten out without taking it further for the third successive time.
"If you are batting in the top five, you have to score hundreds. If you are happy with 50s, that is not enough," said Samaraweera. "Honestly I am out of ideas, the same thing happens every time."
After some of the answers, Samaraweera did revert to press-conference speak: "Hopefully the next two, three guys can get close to the Sri Lanka score or we can get a 50-run lead."
For the only time in the presser, the Bangladesh coach did not seem to believe what he was saying.