Before the Test started, Bangladesh skipper Mushfiqur Rahim said that they needed to play well on all five days instead of just three or four days as they had done on the recent tours of New Zealand and India.
However, whether it was the heat or just a drop in concentration, Bangladesh failed to maintain their standards in three sessions of the first day of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle yesterday.
After losing the toss on an unresponsive wicket, Bangladesh began very well and had the home side at 63 for two at lunch and 155 for three at tea. Then, a fourth-wicket partnership that started midway through the afternoon session between Kusal Mendis and Asela Gunaratne swelled to a 196-run behemoth after tea as Sri Lanka scored 166 runs in the last session for the loss of one wicket.
However, off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz, who got the second wicket of the day just before the lunch interval, thought that they had done well and that a partnership like that was par for the course.
“Our bowlers bowled very well at the beginning -- especially Subashis [Roy] da, Taskin [Ahmed] and Mustafizur [Rahman],” he said at the end-of-day press conference. “But then, although we did well till the end, there was a partnership. In Tests there will obviously be a partnership.”
Miraz said that the wicket did not offer much help to the spinners. “I bowled, Shakib [Al Hasan] bhai did too and there was not much help. Actually, it will stay like this for the first two or three days. I hope it will start turning from the third day onwards. Their batsmen played well, especially Kusal Mendis. If he had gotten out things would have been different.”
He was referring to Mendis's first-ball bottom-edge off Subashis with Sri Lanka's score on 15 in the sixth over, a dismissal that was disallowed after umpire Aleem Dar's request for a front foot check revealed that the bowler had over-stepped. Mendis ended the day unbeaten on 166.
“I can only say that it was bad luck. We all tried our best and no one bowls a no-ball on purpose, it happens. But still, he [Subashis] handled it well afterwards,” Miraz opined.
When asked whether the heat was a factor in the mid-day turnaround, Miraz said that it was no surprise in Galle but admitted that it may have gotten to them.
“The weather is supposed to be a little hot, but the weather we played in recently has been a bit cooler than here, so it will take a little time to acclimatise.”
Bangladesh going in with three pacers with Subashis coming in place of left-arm spinner Taijul Islam may have been a surprise for many, but Miraz saw it as an advantage.
“On this wicket, spinners cannot easily take wickets unless the batsmen make mistakes. But pacers have more chances of taking wickets if they bowl in the right areas. So it is an advantage for spinners and pacers to be bowling in tandem.”
Although things are looking bleak for Bangladesh with a batsman batting on 150-plus and Niroshan Dickwella looking at ease with the bowling and conditions, Miraz was still optimistic of a quick turnaround today.
“They have lost four top-order batsmen and have two main batsmen left,” he said. “So hopefully if tomorrow [Wednesday] we can get the two at the crease, their lower-order batsmen will not be able to score many runs on this wicket. Our target will be to check the runs and get the wickets in the morning tomorrow.”
Miraz was also happy to be playing alongside his good mate Mustafizur, and said that the left-arm pacer was looking much better than he did during the New Zealand tour in the aftermath of his shoulder surgery.