The Tigers have certainly extended their purple patch to yet another day at Khulna yesterday. A resolute and disciplined batting at the Sheikh Abu Naser Stadium put them at par with Pakistan if not in pole position after the opening day's play of the first Test. A score of 236-4 is more than satisfying on a slow and low wicket where playing shot was a tough proposition for any damn good batsman.
The batting approach was arguably not defensive. But it is unfortunate to address that the mindset was defensive, especially after the Tigers coach and captain's pre-match remarks of 'starting the Test with a win at the back of their mind'.
To be precise the playing eleven sans leg-spinner Jubair Hossain gave ample evidence that safety first was the first concern for the team management instead of trying to take 20 Pakistan wickets. Jubair was left out to accommodate off-spinner Shuvagoto Hom, who is actually more a batsman than a right-arm finger-spinner. And it won't be an exaggeration if Shuvagoto, who is certainly a very good batsman, is bracketed with any other average off-spinner playing in domestic cricket.
There was no official comment from the team management about what was the logic behind dropping Jubair, the only leg-spinner in Bangladesh's horizon to have impressed in the last series against Zimbabwe. There is a notion that the young leggie has hardly played in domestic cricket and might not be able to bowl long spells. The second thinking was, with Shuvagoto in the side, the Tigers will enjoy more depth in the batting.
If the second notion is what the team management had entertained then the word 'a win in the back of their mind' was just eyewash.
While Jubair was left out, opposition Pakistan not only have drafted in their leg-spinner Yasir Shah but also tried everything in their power to make him fit for the Test after he was injured at the start of the ODI series.
Yasir not only bowled well on the opening day at Khulna, but also looked a more threatening bowler for the Bangladesh batsmen in the middle. Leg-spinners are always exciting. They can purchase you wickets. The wicket at Khulna is not turning that much now. But come the fourth day and the fifth day, a leg-spinner will be the one a captain, desperate to win a game, will turn to even than a pace bowler.
The Tigers may end up well even without a leggie, but that will not solve the crux of the problem, a problem of imposing ideas that belies logic. We are not sure whether the Tigers team management is working in harmony with the selectors. If that is the case then the selectors should not have picked Jubair even in the Test squad.
The Jubair issue reminds us of those early days of our cricket when personal or group agenda played a big role in the selection of a player in the national team. We want to believe that we are not backtracking at a time when the cricketers are moving forward in the middle.