Tigers’ bowling options decimated by injuries
Following a draw in the first Test in Chattogram, the second Test against Sri Lanka will be a tough challenge for a Bangladesh team battling multiple injuries that may linger into next month's tour to West Indies.
Spin played a vital role for the hosts in the first Test. It was the medium that led to the fall of all 10 Sri Lankan wickets in their first innings, with off-spinner Nayeem Hasan bagging six wickets and left-arm-spinner Shakib Al Hasan taking three. Another left-arm spinner, Taijul Islam, proved instrumental in the second innings as he scalped four of the six Sri Lankan wickets that fell in their second innings.
Unfortunately, Nayeem, who had come in as a replacement for injured off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Miraz, fractured a finger while fielding on the fourth day of the first Test. Despite the injury, the right-arm spinner showed courage in bowling 14 overs on the fifth day to support Taijul and Shakib, the duo that did the bulk of the bowling.
Nayeem was spotted with his arm in a sling in Mirpur yesterday and dejectedly informed that he would miss the West Indies tour. "My finger is broken. It will take over a month to recover. I won't be available for the upcoming West Indies tour," Nayeem told The Daily Star yesterday.
Selectors are yet to announce a replacement for Nayeem while Miraz is yet to recover from the finger injury that he sustained during the Dhaka Premier League in April. That poses a dilemma to the think-tank and their aim to form a settled playing eleven with the Mirpur pitch in mind.
Historically, the pitch at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium has always provided plenty of assistance to spinners. Sri Lankan all-rounder Dhananjaya de Silva was aware of that, claiming the visitors would have three spinners in the playing eleven for the second Test.
"There will definitely be one seamer and three spinners in our team for the second Test because the pitch will favour spinners. If we bat first, we will try to post 275 to 300 runs and then try to bowl our opponents out for under 150 runs. That will give us a chance to win the match," Dhananjaya said after the end of the first Test in Chattogram on Thursday.
Mosaddek Hossain, who is mainly a batting all-rounder but also bowls off-spin, could be Nayeem's replacement for the second Test. Mosaddek, who has played just three Tests and has yet to pick up a wicket, made a comeback to the squad after playing his last Test back in 2019.
Questions may be raised about whether the team management can rely on Mosaddek as a third spinner for the Mirpur Test, especially given the Test series is part of the ICC World Test Championship.
Bangladesh's pace-bowling department is also a major concern for head coach Russell Domingo, with left-arm seamer Shoriful Islam also ruled out of the second Test and the West Indies tour after suffering a blow to his hand while batting on the fourth day of the first Test.
Pacer Taskin Ahmed is also uncertain for the West Indies tour, adding to the woes of the Bangladesh team management as they seek a way to strengthen the bowling department.