Dhaka: All-rounder Ashton Agar concedes face a challenging task to avoid defeat in the first Test against Bangladesh as the pitch as the pitch at the Shere Bangla Stadium gets “harder and harder to bat on”.
The tourists were in a tough spot on Monday night after Bangladesh reached 1/45 in their second innings at stumps to extend their lead in the match to 88, with three days remaining.
Having resumed at 3/18, the tourists fought well for periods but lost wickets steadily throughout the day. They were eventually bowled out for 217 early in the day’s final session, with no batsman having reached 50. Agar survived an early chance in his innings to make 41 not out. Only opener Matt Renshaw (45) bettered that effort, while the 97 balls faced by Agar were more than any of his teammates.
The one-time teen prodigy has made a strong return to the Test side after more than four years on the outer. In addition to his contribution with the bat, his left-arm spin has been effective, with Agar taking 3/46 in the first innings and 1/9 so far in the second. He credited n spin bowling coach Sridharan Sriram for helping improve his game.
As for the team’s situation, Agar insisted the mood remained upbeat despite the deficit. “We’re positive,” Agar said after play.
“We’ve had a pretty good fightback today and anything can happen on this wicket. Things happen so quickly when the ball’s spinning and turning and as you saw tonight a few of them really jumped, so we’re confident that if we get on a bit of a roll tomorrow we can knock them over.”
He acknowledged however that there would be demons in the pitch in the coming days. “It’s definitely getting a bit harder,” he said.
“Off the good stuff though, it’s not too bad, although it is starting to spin a bit more off the good part of the wicket. It’s going to be some pretty tough Test cricket over the next couple of days.
“It’s going to get harder and harder to bat on.”
But despite the deteriorating wicket, Agar would not set a limit on what could chase, preferring to focus on the opportunity presented to him along with fellow spinners Nathan Lyon and Glenn Maxwell. “I believe that we can chase anything because I think we can bowl them out pretty quickly tomorrow. It’s going to be hard, any lead is competitive out there at the moment with the way the wicket’s going, but I’m sure our batters will all learn from our first innings.
“This is what spinners love, when the ball jumps and spins, especially off the good part of the wicket.
“You have to remain patient though, they’re good players of spin, and they played it pretty well tonight so me, Gazza [Lyon] and Maxi are going to have to be patient and really accurate tomorrow and hopefully we get our rewards.”
Several n batsmen fell to straight deliveries from Bangladesh’s spinners, with Agar explaining how the team tried to avoid getting hit on the pad. “We actually talk a lot about that. We say ‘don’t get beaten on the inside edge of the bat’ because when the ball spins it spins quite a long way. It’s not often you’re going to get bowled past the outside edge, it’s going to spin too far. So if you’ve covered your inside edge, make sure you don’t get hit on the pad, that’s when you’re pretty safe. That being said it is hard to do.”
Agar said that during his stay at the crease he had tried to hit with the spin.
Rain is forecast for all three remaining days, although the showers during the match to date have been passing, with no play lost yet.