Bangladesh’s players have often stressed on the need to do well in the first hour of a session. But they have understood, and justifiably so, that far too many times they have given it their all in the first hour only to fizzle out in the second.
In their last three Tests in New Zealand and India, there have been examples of Bangladesh starting well in a game or a session, only to be unable to carry on for the rest of the day and press home the advantage. In Hyderabad against India, Taskin Ahmed and Kamrul Islam Rabbi started strongly on the opening day, but the pair, as well as subsequent bowlers, could not keep up the pressure on the Indian top order. The same situation transpired with the ball on a number of occasions in Wellington and Christchurch, where they could not push on after a good start.
This happens even more when Bangladesh are batting. Too often, they lose wickets in a cluster in the latter part of a session after getting into a position of strength. Well-set batsmen lose focus, which is one of the two problems addressed by coach Chandika Hathurusingha.
“The one-percenters and five-percenters are letting us down,” Hathurusingha said. “We know that we have the capability. There are two things – one, concentrating over a period. We sometimes switch off. The other thing is something that we have identified and spoken about, which is that we have to play the whole session rather than giving everything in the first hour and fading away in the second hour.
“We have discussed the game plan, how to be competitive for two-hour sessions. We did well when we tried this in the two-day practice game. I think this is going to help us. Now, we will learn from those mistakes and identify those moments in the game when they come, and obviously, we are going to keep reminding [ourselves] those things during this series.”
Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh’s opening batsman, also spoke of the need to achieve small targets within the Test. One of the early boxes he has ticked has been getting a big score in the practice match in Moratuwa, where he cracked 136 off 182 balls with nine fours and seven sixes.
“The team and I have to take on small targets so that our process remains on track. If we can bat well and stick to our plans, we can do something good. Things will be different.
“I did well in one innings, but that doesn’t mean I will keep playing the same way in Galle. But, as I said, if I am on track with the process, it gives me more chance to get a big score.”
Tamim said that Bangladesh have a chance to beat Sri Lanka in a Test series, something they are yet to do. “We know the importance of the series. We feel we should win it if we play good cricket,” he said. “They are also a good, young team. We are mentally prepared and everyone is trying their best to make it to the final playing XI.”
Hathurusingha said that the players, having impressed more on an individual level, and sporadically as a team in New Zealand and India, would now have to put it all together for a major team effort in Galle and Colombo despite the heat, which is a worry.
“I think we have a good chance this year – other than the two Test series in India and New Zealand – for various reasons. We had good performances in those conditions, but here, we stand a good chance if we execute our plans.
“Skill-wise, both teams match really well. Home advantage for Sri Lanka is a huge factor. It is totally different to any other Test country. Heat is a huge factor, for concentration and building pressure. That’s the only thing that I am bit concerned about, but we are going to be very competitive.”