I don’t know what to say (laughs), another clinical performance. Very professional with the bat, playing five batters with one guy taking responsibility is what we want with overseas tours coming up. Hats off to the boys. These guys [our fast bowlers] are on top of their game. When they bowl, it looks like any pitch is a good pitch. Jasprit isn’t here but this is a dream combination for any captain. Having strong bowlers is the most important thing in any team.
“I don’t think there was any lack in preparation. If you look at the eight players that arrived for the Test series, all of them played four-day matches before coming. I didn’t think there would be a problem. I thought they would be able to adjust well.”
Thus began Bangladesh’s newly-appointed Test captain Mominul Haque in the press conference a day before the first Test at Indore. He cited that domestic four-dayers were adequate preparation, but what is good preparation? Is it reading into the opponents’ psyche? Getting to know the conditions and acclimatizing with them? Analyzing the strengths of the opposition? Or perhaps all of the above?
When he cited the domestic game as an equivalent, he was perhaps talking about getting into that mental zone for longer-version cricket. But in no way was it adequate enough for what Bangladesh faced in this first Test against their more experienced counterparts.
The pitch was a fascinating one that the Tigers chose to bat on in the early morning on Thursday. The decision was brave but none of the Bangladesh batsmen were prepared for what was to come.
Shadman Islam’s Test career is only five matches long, including Tests at Hamilton and Wellington this year. Those were fast pitches too with good bounce, but the Indore one offered swing and seam movement.
The openers, Imrul Kayes and Shadman, were both found wanting although the gem of a delivery produced by Ishant Sharma in the second innings to castle the latter was almost unplayable. The former had struck a double ton in NCL just recently but here failed to get in line with the deliveries.
Mominul is one of Bangladesh’s best in Tests but, bar one, all of his tons were scored in Dhaka or Chattogram -- on wickets that did not resemble the one at Indore -- and his struggles should have been expected on a track with swing and bounce.
Too little was seen from middle-order batmsan Mohammad Mithun. A relatively new Test player, his mentality and how he views Test cricket seems like he needs a rework.
Mahmudullah Riyad guarded against the short ball very well during the New Zealand tour. It could be said that pace was not a problem but the nagging line and movement from India seamers was a tough task for one known to be a jittery starter. He gifted his wicket in the first innings and saw his lack of foot movement early in the innings exploited on his second turn with the bat by Mohammad Shami.
Liton Das has all the make-up of a terrific batsman but having gotten starts in both innings at Indore, he continued his trend of making shot choices unfit for Test cricket even after a sublime and chanceless innings yesterday. Amongst the batsmen, only Mushfiqur Rahim was able to put a price on his wicket during the second innings.
Adding to that was the fact that there was no time for the team to prepare leading up to the series as the T20I series ended on 10th and the first Test began on 14th November.
In the first Test, Bangladesh had read the wicket wrong. They picked two seamers and out of a defensive mindset had tried to protect their batting by picking an extra batsman. The spinners, often looked up to but not as effective in away conditions, were depended upon purely because the game was in India.
However, India has changed. They rely on pace now. When Mominul cited adequate preparation, they overlooked India’s strength and thus failed in execution of their own skills.
Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan were certainly big misses but what happened in Indore is not new.
The Tigers may have played in domestic four-dayers, but a side with a bad record in Test cricket and one which yesterday suffered its 41st innings defeat in their 19-year history, must account for the fact that they are not up to the mark of Test cricket.
Changes, broad changes -- in structure, in thinking and mentality -- are needed to groom a side that can actually prepare for a match in away conditions like Indore. The fight could have been closer this time but it would not have absolved the mistakes that the Tigers have made simply because of the culture and how Test cricket is planned for. The rest: The words, the matches become just formalities.
I just hope I keep smiling for longer and longer. I do practice my six-hitting, not during Tests but I do try and hit a few in domestic cricket. It’s a dream come true to play for India and I’m grateful for the start I’ve got. I hope I can continue. It’s great to have somebody who motivates you. When I got my first 150, Kohli was at the non-striker’s end and he said: “nothing short of 200 for you next”. We’ve had three pink-ball sessions under lights. Rahul Dravid arranged those in Bangalore. Looking forward to the game now. It’s going to be a landmark game for us.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH