Sports, Cricket

Sri Lanka knew Test would end in draw


Published : 20 May 2022 09:05 PM

By the end of the Chattogram Test where even three innings couldn't be completed, the once famished batters from both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were wearing a satisfied look. They had spent five days tucking into some much needed comfort food thanks to the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium pitch.

Sri Lanka had a rough time in India in March, when they couldn't cross 208 in four innings. Bangladesh have been bowled out for less than 150 on four occasions in the last six months, including scores of 53 and 80 in South Africa last month.

Batters averaged 44.88 in this Test, with three centuries and six fifties. Whenever there was a cluster of wickets, both sides managed to string partnerships to get them out of trouble. These recoveries happened on the first, second and fifth day for Sri Lanka, and on the fourth afternoon for Bangladesh. Despite Nayeem Hasan's six-wicket haul and four-fors from Taijul Islam and Kasun Rajitha, it was a bowler's nightmare.

Last year, Kyle Mayers' unbeaten 210 on the final day helped West Indies to a miraculous Test win in Chattogram. Bangladesh couldn't knock over the last three wickets, in part, because the pitch didn't break down they way they like. Sri Lanka had run up big totals here in 2014 and 2018 as well, when the ICC rated the pitch below average. The last time this pitch won praise for being sporting was in 2016.

Is it just coincidence that almost every time Bangladesh come to Chattogram, their batters are in dire need of runs, and the pitch is obligingly flat? Four years ago, these same two sides played out a dull, high-scoring draw at this very stadium.

On Thursday, the Sri Lanka allrounder Dhananjaya de Silva even admitted that "we knew it was going to be a draw from the first day. There was a very slight chance of Bangladesh to win but the wicket didn't have anything for the bowlers. We are very happy with the draw."

Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque said that the batters have to make mental adjustments when they play in Dhaka next week, given the pitch there is much more sporting.

"Playing on different pitches and conditions is a mental adjustment," Mominul said. "We play in Dhaka and Chattogram all year long, so we all know how to play pace and spin in the two venues. The spinning ball comes a bit slow here, but in Dhaka the same type of ball will come quicker, whether it will turn in or go away. We can set it in training, so I think it is a matter of mentality."

The Shere Bangla National Stadium is going to be a test for the batters, but Mominul is confident that having batted well as a team, they can definitely carry their form. He was, however, slightly worried about the fast bowlers not doing well enough.

"Everyone looked good to score runs and take wickets. We played as a team, and I have often said that we do well when we play well as a team. It gives us good results.

"Pace bowlers have gained acceptability recently so they could have bowled better in the first innings. I think the spinners did well on a pitch where it is difficult to take wickets. Shakib bhai had a very important role. They had raised their tempo in the first innings, but Shakib bhai reined them in. It happened in the second innings too," Mominul said.