Spinners need to adapt and level up | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 11, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:15 AM, February 11, 2021

Spinners need to adapt and level up

The ploy of packing the side with an arsenal of spinners on a pitch prepared to aid them backfired yet again as hosts Bangladesh suffered a shocking defeat in the first Test in Chattogram, where West Indies chased down a record 395-run target.

Bangladesh faced a similar outcome in the last Test they played at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury, in 2019. The hosts then fielded four spinners and went down by an embarrassing 224-run margin against Test newcomers Afghanistan.

This time, the surface in Chattogram was not tailor-made for the three Bangladeshi spinners in off-spinners Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Nayeem Hasan and left-arm spinner Taijul Islam after Shakib Al Hasan suffered a thigh injury and had to sit out since the second day.

Although the pitch did offer turn and the odd variable bounce, it was only if the ball was bowled at the right line and length. Mehedi did get the reward for that and picked up eight wickets in the game but still, the pitch did not meet the expectation of an out-and-out rank-turner surface till the end of the fifth day.

It seemed the Bangladesh spinners were expecting the pitch to change its nature over the last three days.

Instead, the pitch was on the slower side and despite there being a hint of turn on the surface, what cost Bangladesh was undisciplined bowling on a surface that demanded accuracy. More dispiriting for the hosts would have been the fact that visiting finger spinners Rahkeem Cornwall and Jomel Warrican had displayed the requisite accuracy in Bangladesh's second inning.

Just a day later, the home spinners often erred on the short side and conceded regular boundaries, especially to left-hander Kyle Mayers, who hit 20 fours and seven sixes during a match-winning 210.

With Shakib missing out on the second Test in Mirpur too, it will be important for the three remaining spinners to step up their skills instead of relying on a surface that is may or may not be a perfect fit.

In the last Test they played in Mirpur against Zimbabwe last year, Bangladesh did field two-seamers in Ebadot Hossain and Abu Jayed, and the latter bagged four wickets in the first innings.

But it was Taijul and Nayeem who were instrumental, bagging 15 wickets in the game and the seamers bowled just nine overs in the second innings as Bangladesh registered a comfortable innings and 106-run victory.

However, the scenario will be different against an upbeat West Indies with an experienced and able pace attack with Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel leading the charge. The impressive Alzarri Joseph could well be included.

Mominul said the team management is willing to reverse their one-pacer strategy after fielding Mustafizur Rahman as the lone pacer in Chattogram. However, he did add that everything will depend on the conditions.

The Fizz also struggled despite a brilliant start in the first innings when he picked up two wickets but the left-arm seamer was uncomfortable with his follow-through after being warned twice by the umpire for running on the danger zone.

"It will depend on the conditions and if it allows for three pacers or if it requires spinners we will go accordingly," said Mominul.

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