Wearing the green Test blazer of Bangladesh, Khaled Mashud ‘Pilot’ looked worried as he entered the Eden Gardens for the pink ball Test. Bangladesh folded for 106 in the first innings. There was no intent in the second innings either as the Indian pacers dictated terms. “Our players need to play more of Test cricket, both at home and away, to improve,” he kept reiterating.
Mashud — who was once branded as the ‘best wicketkeeper of Asia’ by former Bangladesh coach Dav Whatmore — was part of the side that made its Test debut against India in 2000. Later, he had contributed to Bangladesh’s first ever ODI hat-trick by taking two catches off Shahadat Hossain. In red ball cricket, he is remembered for staging a crucial recovery against West Indies from a precarious hold – 123/7 to 271/9 in 2004. He scored his only Test ton in that match, 103 not out, batting for 334 minutes.
What do you think is the reason behind Bangladesh’s fall in this Test series? They are 1-0 down. They lost the Indore Test in three days and are about to lose this one too…
Pink or red ball, the game is cricket. The intent, basics, the aim is the same; like bowling on the right areas and batting wisely. One or two balls may have some movement which will happen when you are travelling. The ball moves a bit more in New Zealand. Here, it is not as much. But a good player should be able to adjust everywhere but the problem is if you don’t get enough time to adjust, then it is a problem. Suddenly you can’t land here and do well. You need to two to three weeks to prepare for a Test series like this.
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Bangladesh captain Mominul Haque said many players came from four-day cricket back home and that was good preparation for the tour of India…
I see no preparation here. India is one of the best sides. Earlier, India used to rely on batting and now they have a healthy fast bowling department. The quantity of loose balls have lessened, every delivery is a good delivery. Ninety per cent of the balls are good balls. When I have to play against them, I need preparation up to that level. There used to be a time when India used to win matches at home by preparing rank turners but now, they are in such a stage that they want to do well away from home as well. They want to win in England, and they have won in Australia. India has developed a healthy culture.
What is lacking in Bangladesh?
Perhaps the culture that India has created. Charity begins at home. You need to develop yourself at home. India prepares seaming tracks even in first-class cricket to test how the bowlers fare. This is the culture I am talking about. Unless we do something like this, we can’t win. Before touring India, all big teams such as England, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa prepare to play spin and now, a preparation will be needed for pace. We need a culture to be able to play on every kind of wicket.
Mahmudullah is rushed into playing a short-pitched delivery, which tested the technique of Bangladeshi’s top-order batsmen during the second Test at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata. – K.R. DEEPAK
But that also involves individual preparation and mindset…
Once the players walk into a Test side, they have to keep working hard to improve. In India, the youngsters [after the retirement of the big guns such as Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid] have improved because they worked on their own game. You need to constantly evolve by working on your game.
Would you say franchise T20 cricket is a major distraction in this regard?
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T20 is bang bang cricket. If you can connect bat to ball, you can hit some fours or sixes. The ball won’t move much and if you have the strength, you can clear the boundaries but if you talk about quality, it is Test cricket. Test arena is the real cricket family. If the players are strong and healthy and if you train them for five years, they will be able to do well. To be a real cricketer, you need to play Tests. At the moment, no amount of training seems to be working for us. It’s like listening to music these days where there is so much noise. The real music lies in how Lata Mangeshkar sings. We are expecting the wrong guys to sing the right notes here.
What are your memories from that first Test match against India?
The tension was immense. They had so many stars such as Sourav [Ganguly], Sachin and Rahul [Dravid]. I couldn’t sleep but once the game started, I forgot about it. It was tremendous mental pressure. Once the day got over, I crashed. If you are mentally tired, you will be finished by the end of the day. That’s my memory! (laughs)