Plan was to bowl dot balls: Sabbir
There were just three days between the debacle in the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle that Bangladesh lost by 259 runs and the start of their 100th Test at the P Sara Oval in Colombo, but judging by their performance on the first day yesterday, that seemed time enough to transform the team.
Whereas on the first day in Galle there was an inability to sustain standards throughout the day, dropped catches and a wicket off a no-ball, the first day in Colombo was the scene of a team finally getting their act together on the field. To have Sri Lanka on 238 for seven, on a pitch without demons after the hosts had won the toss in a venue where Bangladesh only have innings defeats to look back upon, counts as a decisive advantage for the tourists.
After the day Sabbir Rahman, who came back into the side following an injury to wicketkeeper Liton Das, did not think that the home side lost wickets because they played badly.
"The wicket is good. We bowled in the right areas," said the young batsman when asked whether it would be difficult, judging by the current state of the home side, for the tourists to bat when it is their turn. "They got out because we created dot-ball pressure.
"Our plan was to cut out the runs, bowl dot balls. They bowled really well. We created opportunities and then we held on to them."
The dot balls were certainly a feature of Bangladesh's play. While in Galle, especially after the first half of the first day, most of the wickets fell because Sri Lanka were trying to drive home the advantage with quick runs, yesterday wickets seemed to fall because the home batsmen wanted to wrest back the initiative.
The situation could have been even better for Bangladesh if certain decisions against Dinesh Chandimal, who was unbeaten on 86 at stumps, had gone their way. In the 39th over, umpire S Ravi appeared to have given Chandimal caught at slip after first denying a leg-before appeal before Soumya Sarkar at first slip appealed for a caught behind. Chandimal's subsequent review was inconclusive because there was no Hot Spot or Ultra Edge, but the decision was overturned nonetheless.
A few overs later a catch off a top-edged sweep to fine leg was disallowed after a soft not-out decision on the field when replays suggested that the ball may have bounced inches in front of a diving Mehedi Hasan Miraz.
"It was a 50/50 chance, and it is likely that he didn't understand that he took it on the first bounce," said Sabbir about Miraz's disallowed catch, but he seemed pretty sure about the earlier chance. "We were quite sure of the Chandimal wicket but it wasn't given unfortunately. I think we got these chances because we created a lot of pressure on the batsmen."
Creating and sustaining pressure seemed to be the theme of the day, and Sabbir hoped that they can continue in the same vein by getting Sri Lanka all out in the first hour today. If they do that, they will hope that the turnaround from their Galle nightmare extends to the batting as well.