England captain Alastair Cook (L) exults after scoring a century as Kevin Pietersen applauds on the first day of the first Test against Bangladesh at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong yesterday. Photo: AFP
From start to finish of the opening day's play of the first Test at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium the question was; what's the point of fielding first on a placid surface after loading the side with spinners?
The surprise decision of home captain Shakib Al Hasan definitely made the opponents happy, as it would not be an easy task to bat after fielding under such scorching heat in the port city. The English batsmen took full advantage of the poor decision to take control of the match as they scored 374 for three before stumps were drawn for the day and the batting of captain Alastair Cook (158 not out) and Kevin Pietersen (99) showed how easy the wicket was to bat on.
Was it the lack of confidence on the batsmen that forced the home team to take this surprise decision? Bangladesh coach Jamie Siddons however came up with a more surprising explanation behind the decision as he said that their experience against New Zealand and some one-day matches made them believe that it would spin from day one.
“In hindsight it was probably a bad decision, but we thought we knew a bit about the Chittagong wicket, and we thought that it would spin from day one, and get flatter and flatter like it has in the past, but for some unknown reason it didn't turn and was probably as flat as it normally is on days three and four here. Hindsight, bad decision, but we expected it to spin a lot more than that,” explained Siddons while speaking in the press conference after the day's play.
Captain Shakib Al Hasan echoed his coach's sentiment and said that things could have been worse if they batted first and lost some quick wickets.
“I have same opinion as my coach,” said Shakib.
“Our strength is our spin, so it didn't matter whether we bowled first or second. Our quicks on this wicket weren't going to be the answer on that pitch, and won't be throughout the game, they won't play a massive part. We didn't play four spinners; two genuine spinners and two part-time off-spinners who are both batsmen really,' added Siddons.
The match scenario was however very much clear to the Australian after the first day's domination of the England side and he was looking for an extraordinary performance from his charges to bounce back in the game.
“I don't think two teams can take the game from here, I think we are pretty much nearly out of the game, unless we bowl terrifically in the morning, and then we have to bat the house down. I expect them to make somewhere around 500 and that's if we bowl well. Then we need to make a bit more than that,” opined Bangladesh coach.
“We've probably put ourselves out of the game which we tend to do a lot in the first day or first session of a game. Our two fast bowlers bowled really poorly and let the team down, and our two spinners didn't put the ball in the right areas. It's been a difficult day, and only one team can win,” he added.
So, only a magical performance can salvage the party for the home side.