A total of 28 wickets have fallen on the two days of the ongoing second and final Test between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka at Dhaka’s Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium so far, 14 on each day. On a pitch seemingly great for spin bowling, Mustafizur Rahman has picked up five wickets in 23 overs, and Suranga Lakmal has three wickets in 12 overs, for combined figures of 35-10-77-8.
On the second day of the Test on Friday (9 February), Mustafizur accounted for Danushka Gunathilaka in the middle phase of the Sri Lankan second innings and then came back to pick up wickets off back-to-back deliveries towards the end, sending back Dilruwan Perera and Akila Dananjaya.
While lauding the paceman, Courtney Walsh, Bangladesh's bowling coach, said he wanted to see Mustafizur bowl more overs.
“Mustafizur has been consistent throughout the game, I think he should have bowled a little bit more in both the innings. Even Miraz (Mehidy Hasan) bowled well. He was tested at first but he came back really well. He was consistent with his line and length, and that's what worked for him,” pointed out the West Indian legend.
“When he (Mustafizur) is smiling and he is happy, you know he is doing well. He should have bowled a little bit more but that's my point of view. But you also have to consider the fact that we just have one seamer, so it was important to keep a check on his routine and how many overs you could have got out of him. But the way they both bowled was very impressive. It was good to see.”
Dinesh Chandimal, especially, found himself in a major tangle trying to negotiate Mustafizur’s off-cutters, and even copped one on the bottom glove, which required his thumb to be taped up.
“Mustafizur used his cutters clearly; people also forget that he had a major surgery a couple of months ago so you can't expect him to be there where he was before. It will take a bit of time, his confidence is coming back. He is getting pretty comfortable in terms of what he can do and he's not over-forcing any stuff, which is very good. He is only doing things, which will get him back to where he was before,” said Walsh.
When playing in home conditions, more than a single, two at most, fast bowlers is a luxury Bangladesh can’t afford, and Walsh stressed that the pacers can only improve with more time in the middle.
“They will have to play consistent cricket and that's where they will learn their traits,” he said. “The biggest challenge ... I would like to spend more time when they are on tour. So we can do some work together and get them ready. I've got some time and that's what I would like to do. Unfortunately, they don't play as much cricket as you'd like them to. The talent is there but it's the match skills that they will have to work on.”
“You just want to play for your country, doesn't matter which surface you play on. It's all about practicing and furnishing your skills. When we (West Indies) used to go to the subcontinent, it was tough. You're not going to get the pacey wickets, which we had in our times that also offer a lot of bounce. But the skills of reverse swing, yorkers can still be improved by playing more cricket.”
After Bangladesh were bowled out for 110 in their first innings to give Sri Lanka a 112-run advantage, the visitors added 200/8 in their second innings by close of play on Friday to go 312 runs ahead.
“I think we were a bit inconsistent today,” offered Walsh. “We fell a bit too short and there were certain errors, we let them score freely. We should have tightened things up a little bit and in the field, we could have been a little bit tighter. Now I'd like Bangladesh to bat all day tomorrow and a little bit into the fourth day and we can have a very exciting game of cricket.”