The Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium can now be added to the list of recent venues (others being the MCG and the Wanderers) in which either the batsmen or bowlers had absolute advantage over the other. By the end of the Test match, in which both sides thought every morning that the pitch would break up over that day, players from the two teams had differing views on it. While Sri Lanka opener Dimuth Karunaratne said he did not think this was a good track for the well being of Test cricket, Bangladesh’s stand-in captain Mahmudullah felt there was nothing wrong with it.
Karunaratne said that he felt it wasn’t the right kind of pitch as it had nothing to offer to the bowlers. Indeed, the Sri Lankan bowlers struggled to draw a false stroke out of Mominul Haque and Liton Das for four hours, and then when they did dismiss them, they were thwarted by the dead bats of Mahmudullah and Mosaddek Hossain.
Karunaratne said that he hoped the pitch in Mirpur will have a bit more spice for the bowlers. “Bangladesh put up 500-plus on the board but our batters showed a lot of character to reply with 700-plus. The boys did well to put them under pressure on this wicket by getting a big score. I don’t think this is a good wicket for Test cricket because already 1,500 runs have been scored. I think there needs to be something for the bowlers as well. I am hopeful we get a 50-50 wicket in the next Test.
“Normally, in the subcontinent, there is some turn in the fourth and fifth day. Here there wasn’t much turn or bounce. Batsmen could play big shots off the back foot as well. Once a batsman got set, he was able to get a really big one on this wicket. There were a lot of big runs in the scorecard.”
Mahmudullah, however, didn’t agree with Karunaratne. When asked of his opinion on Karunaratne’s comments, Mahmudullah said that both teams should be happy with their batsmen getting plenty of runs at a good run rate in a Test match.
“I think batsmen from both sides did well. I don’t know how he said it wasn’t a good wicket for Test cricket. I think we have to ask him what type of wicket he wants. Test match is always hard – whether it was a batting-friendly, spin- or pace-friendly wicket. Batsmen from both sides dominated the game. The run rate was quite good. I think it was a good wicket.”
Mahmudullah, however, did admit that he expected there to be some turn every day of this Test, like usually happens in Chittagong: “I think the wicket was really good from the first to the fifth day. I didn’t expect [it] to be this good.
“I thought it might start turning from the second or third day, or the fourth or fifth. Having said that, I think everyone had to work hard to score runs.”
Mominul, who scored 176 and 105 in this game, said that he had trained his mind to expect a bit of turn. “I thought it would turn a bit more. I didn’t want to be surprised with the turn, which is why I kept that in mind,” he said.
Now, the pitch debate is likely to rage on during the rest of the Test series, as had been the case with the Shere Bangla National Stadium’s surfaces during the Bangladesh Premier League and the tri-nation series.