As a result, the Tigers lost the golden opportunity of claiming their first bilateral away series win since 2009 as the Lankans won by 70 runs to level the series 1-1. Mashrafe told the media during the post-match press conference at Sinhalese Sports Club ground on Saturday, "I think our batting and bowling in the first 10 overs, respectively, went wrong. They changed their game with the two fast bowlers. It was hard to come back from 11 runs for three wickets but I think Shakib [al Hasan] and Soumya [Sarkar] got the chance after getting set. I think Shakib got tired. He was cramping. We didn’t get any partnerships after their stand broke."
Bangladesh won the toss and elected to field first, surprising quite a few in the process as the SSC wicket is generally considered batting-friendly.
Mashrafe however, said slight grass of the wicket and the chance of rain later in the game inspired them to field first.
“Both grass on the wicket and rain factors were behind the decision of fielding first. When we played the practice match, we understood that the Colombo wicket becomes flatter in the second half. They perhaps made 20 runs more, but if you follow [Mehedi Hasan] Miraz’s batting, you could see clearly that the wicket didn’t have anything,” said Mashrafe.
“Perhaps the new balls swung from both ends but Soumya and Shakib could have dragged on their partnership a bit further and if the next two batsmen could have made a big contribution, we could have won the game. We needed 70-odd off the last 36 balls, so I think if we had wickets in hand, things would have been different for us.
“But you can’t just blame the batsmen. If we could have kept them to 250, their mindset would’ve been different. We didn’t want to lose early wickets because their new-ball bowlers were their best bowlers so if we could survive them, things would have become easier later. They used occasional bowlers too,” he said.
Bangladesh did not bowl well in their first 10 overs as the Lankan opening batsmen added 76 and Mashrafe admitted that the bowlers were not disciplined and failed to bowl according to plans.
“I don’t know if it was nervousness [in the first 10 overs]. We used five bowlers during that period. We weren’t as disciplined as we were in the first two games. I think we tried a few more things because we weren’t getting what we wanted early on. We didn’t judge the wicket properly,” he said.
He added, “In the New Zealand series we made changes in every game. Confidence of players went down, and they started to feel insecure. It is a good thing that we were consistent in Sri Lanka. Everyone understood their role. I hope the team will remain on their toes in Ireland.”