Sports, Cricket

Hathurusinghe lauds ‘professional approach’ by Bangladesh quicks

Published : 19 Jun 2023 08:09 PM

Bangladesh's fast bowlers showed maturity during the one-off Test against Afghanistan, something that impressed head coach Chandika Hathurusinghe. The pace trio finished with their best match haul as the home side beat Afghanistan by 546 runs. It was a significant win, particularly at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, regarded as Bangladesh's spin stronghold.

During his first stint, Hathurusinghe zeroed in on the spin strategy at home, which resulted in Test wins against England and Australia. It, however, made pace bowling almost redundant. Even after his exit, the home strategy was to focus on spin until slowly, the fast bowlers' progressive white-ball performances and the Mount Maunganui Test win influenced the team management.

Hathurusinghe, who joined in February this year, said that the fast bowlers showed maturity in their attack plan against the Afghanistan batters. He said that their use of the bouncers was smart, and showed that they understood their opposition.

"Previously our strength was spin," Hathurusinghe said. "Now we have options to explore the other way, using the fast bowlers and win matches depending on the opposition. It was pleasing to see them not get carried away on the fast, bouncy wicket. The way the bowled was so good. It was a very professional approach. They didn't use the bouncer for the sake of using it. They bowled mostly on the front foot. Those little things show the maturity of fast bowlers. They have come a long way. I am very pleased."

Hathurusinghe said that they will use fast or spin bowling at home depending on the strength of the opposition. "We will decide the best way that we can win the game. We are blessed with spinners and fast bowlers, which is a really good situation as a coach and for the team. Bangladesh cricket is a healthy place at the moment," he said.

Hathurusinghe said that the new opening pair of Zakir Hasan and Mahmudul Hasan Joy also impressed him. They were put together in the last minute after Tamim Iqbal pulled out due to a back injury. Zakir and Joy scored a fifty each, although each of them also got out early in at least one innings.

"I was very impressed actually. I was seeing Zakir bat for the first time. You know that he got injured after that India game. So he had a really good start to his Test career. He is good against pace and spin. Very rarely are openers good against both.

"Joy showed good temperament the way he batted. His record also says that if he gets a start, he goes big. I am also very pleased that Mominul coming into runs as well."

Hathurusinghe added that he is ready to give a longer rope to Zakir and Joy as he believes they are ready for the highest level.

"Definitely those two guys (Joy and Zakir) will get a long run. They have done well. Zakir has played three matches, scoring a hundred and two fifties. Joy has a big hundred and fifty away, and here as well. They can play at this level."

Bangladesh have also scored at an unusually high tempo in their last two Tests. 

They went at 4.58 to score 369 runs against Ireland in April but in this Afghanistan Test, they batted at 4.44 and 5.31 in the respective innings. Their 425 for 5 declared in 80 overs in particular was eye-catching. Hathurusinghe said Bangladesh would bat the same way if such conditions and opportunities arrived again.

"If the conditions helps us, we will definitely do that. That's how we trained. That's how we gave them freedom to score runs. Name of the game is scoring runs. If the condition is difficult we will be smart enough to bat the way the condition allows us to bat.

"In the same way, we must give credit to Shanto. How he batted in that Test two innings. Especially the first two hours, him and Joy, the way they batted, calmed the nerves of everybody in the dressing room," he said.