Unfazed Bangladesh promise to fight

Monday, July 2, 2007

Under-performing Bangladesh go into Tuesday’s second Test against mighty Sri Lanka determined to lift their game and prove they deserve to play at the highest level.
The knives were out after Bangladesh crashed to their worst ever defeat against Sri Lanka in the first Test, losing by an innings and 234 runs at the Sinhalese Sports Club last week.
It was Bangladesh’s 41st defeat in 47 Tests and the 10th loss in the last 11 matches since beating a struggling Zimbabwe in 2005 for their lone Test win so far.
Only a rained-off match against India in Chittagong in May prevented a 0-11 sweep in recent times, prompting assistant coach Sarwar Imran to admit there had been no progress since the nation gained Test status in 2000.
‘Nothing has changed in our approach to Test cricket because we are making the same old mistakes,’ Imran told Bangladeshi journalists travelling with the team.
‘We have a bunch of talented cricketers but I think we are not mentally tough to sustain at this level.’
Former captain Habibul Bashar jumped to his team-mates’ defence, saying he was confident Bangladesh would perform better when the second Test starts at the P Sara Stadium.
‘I don’t agree with those who say that we made no improvement in the five-day game,’ said Bashar, who was replaced as captain for the tour by 22-year-old Mohammad Ashraful.
‘I am not frustrated with what happened at the SSC. We have two more Tests to go and this is a chance for us to show that we are not as bad as people are making us out to be.’
Bangladesh, who were shot out for 89 in the first innings at the SSC, cruised to 227-3 in the second knock when the last seven wickets slumped for 27 runs.
‘There is no shame in losing to such a strong team like Sri Lanka, but we have to learn from the mistakes and try and bat longer,’ said Bashar, who made two and 27 in the first Test.
Bangladesh, who have lost all their eight Tests against Sri Lanka, face an uphill task to prevent the hosts from taking a decisive 2-0 lead in the series.
Sri Lanka, finalists at the World Cup in the Caribbean in April where Bangladesh entered the second round for the first time, have been formidable at home in recent years.
Mahela Jayawardene’s men have won eight of their last 11 home Tests, mainly through solid top order batting and the genius of spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan.
The 35-year-old, who grabbed nine wickets in the first Test and was named man of the match, has claimed an astonishing 59 victims in just seven Tests against Bangladesh.
The prolific off-spinner goes into the second Test with 683 Test wickets, just 25 away from equalling retired Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne’s world record of 708 wickets.
The third and final Test will be played in Kandy from July 11-15, followed by three one-day internationals.