Spending 179 and 159.2 overs on the field has led to them getting to a “breaking point”
The Bangladesh team reached a physical and mental “breaking point” on the third afternoon of the second Test in Pallekele, according to coach Russell Domingo. He was referring to the 179 and 159.2 overs they have been in the field over the two Tests against Sri Lanka with three rest days thrown in. Domingo however said that there were some soft dismissals as the visitors were bowled out for 251 – losing 7 for 37 – and ending the day behind by 259 runs.
“The guys have spent so much time on the field in the last 4-5 days (over the two Tests),” Domingo said. “They are probably a little bit mentally fatigued after being in the field for 338 overs. It wears you down physically and mentally as a cricketer. It could be one of the reasons. Obviously, there were one or two soft dismissals.
“All teams reach a breaking point. Our breaking point came this afternoon when we were batting. It has been a tough day for us. We have to try to be positive. There’s still a lot of cricket to be played. We have to make sure the guys are in a good frame of mind when we bowl tomorrow (Sunday).”
Domingo also expects the less-experienced players in the line-up to make bigger contributions. And as part of that process, he wants to identify young players and back them. In return, he expects them to repay the faith to lessen the burden on the likes of Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim.
“It is a batting unit that we need to support and identify roles for, and make sure get better,” he said. “There are six or seven batters who all need to contribute, and build partnerships. While Tamim has played really well, the focus shouldn’t be just on one particular player. We have some younger players who need to step up and put in big performances. We have to give them opportunities so that they can get to the levels of Tamim and Mushfiq in time to come.”
The coach was also of the opinion that Iqbal should continue to bat aggressively upfront. The senior batter has scored four fifties in a row now, having shredded a slightly-conservative template.
“In our particular line-up at the moment, we have four or five players who haven’t played ten Tests yet,” he observed. “There’s a lot of inexperience, so we need to encourage someone like Tamim to play positively, and take pressure off the younger players. Some of the younger players are not at east to express themselves, and play with that sort of intent.”
Domingo also pointed towards Bangladesh’s previous Test series for inspiration, underlining how West Indies scaled their 395-run target in the fourth innings to win the Chattogram Test by three wickets.
“We were part of an unbelievable Test match a few months ago, when West Indies chased down 387,” he said. “We know that we are way behind the game at the moment. We are under a lot of pressure. Sri Lanka are dominating at the moment. But if we can pick up early wickets, cause a little bit of jitters in the change room, you never know. Somebody comes out and plays a great innings. So we have to remain positive going into day four.”
Did Bangladesh pick the best XI? Domingo certainly thinks so, despite the bowlers toiling away. “It is easy to say after three days of cricket that we picked the wrong team,” he said. “I don’t think we have (picked the wrong team). We have a balanced bowling attack, who we think can take 20 wickets. When we bowled on day one, there wasn’t much spin on offer. Obviously the wicket started to spin now, towards the end of day three. It was tricky for the batsmen.”
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84