• Tuesday, Aug 09, 2022
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Docile pitch acts as killjoy in first Test

  • Published at 08:08 pm April 26th, 2021
Mominul
Bangladesh's Mominul Haque plays a shot during day two of their first Test against Sri Lanka in Kandy Thursday AFP

The wicket that was claimed to be lively simply did not do justice to the two teams, and also the sport

Usually a drawn Test against a higher-ranked side is tantamount to a win for a lower-ranked side.

In most cases Bangladesh, one of the lowest ranked sides in the world for years, celebrate a draw after full five days of play and many individual performances are lionized for years.

The joy is magnified manifold if the draw occurs on foreign soil.

But as it happened, the drawn first Test between Bangladesh and hosts Sri Lanka at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium failed to yield much excitement among the Tigers fans, and the docile pitch became the main topic of discussion when the Test underwent a post-mortem. 

Both Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had added pacers to their arsenal expecting the evident green top would offer unprecedented assistance for fast bowling.

But the bright light for pacers turned into a mirage as 1,289 runs were scored on the claimed green top for the loss of only 17 wickets in five days of play.

The pacers from both the teams were left clueless and had to bend their backs under difficult weather condition in the spectator-less ground without much success.

At last the much awaited away century came for Mominul Haque.

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The game registered nine 50-plus innings off which four were converted to centuries.

There was one double century and two innings were above 150 runs.

The effort by the batsmen of both the teams must be applauded as they have made the best use of the condition.

But in honest confession the game has left a bitter after taste for many.

The wicket that was claimed to be lively simply did not do justice to the two teams and also the sport. 

According to Sri Lanka media outlets, the blame is being put on the "inexperience" of Sri Lanka Cricket head of the curators’ department.

“These things happen when an international venue manager unofficially becomes the head of the curators’ department,” an International Cricket Council qualified curator was quoted as saying by the Morning Sports.

Tamim Iqbal must have felt satisfied to guide his side to a draw but he might also rue for missing a century due to inclement weather

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The report further revealed the lack of proper yearly renovation program of the wicket that has been played on.

“Even though the top is green, the layers underneath appear though it has not been treated. This is like capping a decayed tooth with a gold crown when actually a root-canal filling needs to be done,” the ICC qualified curator was quoted.

The matches are part of the World Test Championship.

SLC should be credited for being able to successfully host the series amid the pandemic, but the wicket from the first game is perhaps going to earn some unwanted demerit points.

Speaking of demerit points, there has been opinion in the Bangladesh cricket community on the Pallakele pitch receiving demerit points, like it had happened to the pitch in Chittagong's Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium.

In 2018, the pitch for the drawn first Test also between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka at ZACS was rated "below average" by ICC match referee David Boon, resulting in the cricket’s global governing body handing the venue a demerit point.

The demerit point remains active for a rolling five-year period and if the venue reaches the threshold of five demerit points over five years, it will be suspended from staging any international cricket for 12 months.

Tamim reached his half-century in the innings when the team total was 52. There is no official category for such feat but the Bangladeshi broke the record that stood for 131 years

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“The pitch provided no seam movement to the fast bowlers with the new ball and also lacked carry and bounce throughout the match. The pitch did offer occasional slow turn for the spinners early on, but it did not deteriorate as much as would have been expected as the match progressed, resulting in a pitch that too heavily favored the batsmen across the five days,” Boon had said in his report in 2018 against ZACS.

A total of 1,533 runs were scored by the two sides at ZACS while only 24 wickets fell in the five days of the Test.

A total of five centuries and six half-centuries were registered with Bangladesh scoring 513 and 307 for five in their two innings and Sri Lanka piling up 713 for nine in their only innings.

For the just finished Test between Bangladesh and hosts Sri Lanka, there has been no criticism of such for the pitch from match referee Ranjan Madugalle, a former Sri Lanka cricketer.

Bangladesh will face Sri Lanka in the second and final Test of the series at the same venue starting Thursday.

Bangladesh team leader for the tour of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh Cricket Board director Khaled Mahmud hopes the wicket will be better for the bowlers in the upcoming game.

“Yes, the wicket was totally flat in the first Test. It is difficult to have a result on such wicket actually. But I am hopeful that we will have something different in the next game but I can only comment on it after having a look at the wicket,” said Mahmud.

“It can be a seaming wicket or a spin wicket but I believe it will not be a flat wicket. I am sure even Sri Lanka team did not like the wicket (for the first game). I felt really sorry for the bowlers for both the teams. It is tough for the bowlers to pick 20 wickets and win a game. They (Sri Lanka) had a more experienced pace bowling attack but couldn’t do well. I will say the wicket we played on was not a result oriented wicket for a Test. Only 20 (17) wickets fell in a five-day game. We are expecting a better wicket in the next game,” the former Bangladesh captain added.