During a lively and light-hearted practice session for the Bangladesh team yesterday, there was a serious sub-plot and it revolved around Bangladesh Test captain Shakib Al Hasan at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chattogram.
Shakib has returned to the side after having recovered from a lingering finger injury. On Sunday, he had batted against the pacers for more than 40 minutes, but yesterday he reverted to batting against the spinners and did not look too comfortable during two net sessions totalling roughly 20 minutes.
Of greater concern was him missing catches during slip catching practice.
However, Bangladesh fielding consultant Ryan Cook did not seem very perturbed.
“I didn't see any of the high catching, because I was doing the cover catching and he took the catches fine,” Cook told reporters after practice yesterday. “And he's got a great attitude so it always helps that he goes for the ball all the time.”
What may have seemed tentative to the untrained eye, according to Cook, was actually Shakib taking extra care to see that the ball hit the right spot on his palm.
Even if Shakib is okay, Bangladesh's fielding has become a bit of a concern after they dropped nine catches in last week's second Test against Zimbabwe.
“In the first Test we caught 91 per cent of the catches, which I thought was outstanding. In the second game there were some tough chances that went down. The boys have come around and said that they are going to work hard on their catching even more to make sure that doesn't happen.”
Cook hails from a rich fielding tradition in South Africa. Instead of a difference in attitude between Bangladeshi fielders and South Africans, he thought that the different histories of the two countries played a part.
“In South Africa we've got a lot of players one can aspire to -- Jonty Rhodes and Herschelle Gibbs -- whereas these players are the aspiring players. I think they must set their own standards and they must be the best fielding team in the world. And there is no doubt we are capable of doing that.”