“At the moment I feel we are playing not to lose. That mental shift will take a bit of time.”
Bangladesh need a change in mindset to push towards winning Test matches rather than be satisfied with draws, their head coach Russell Domingo has said. The result of the first Test in Pallekele – the first draw in 29 Tests played in Sri Lanka – was mostly welcomed by Bangladesh, who came into the series having lost four of their last five Tests, including a 2-0 defeat at home to an under-strength West Indies.
Domingo said he has sensed a culture of fear within the ranks, which he believes can be eliminated if Bangladesh begin challenging themselves in critical phases of Test matches. During the first Test, Bangladesh showed signs of the mindset he hopes to instill, when they picked five bowlers including three quicks and decided to bat first after winning their toss – both decisions were out of character for a side that’s usually dependent on its spinners and is known for its safety-first approach.
“It is disappointing when a drawn Test is seen as a massive success,” Domingo said. “I am not here for drawn Tests. We also don’t want to lose Tests but we should have a mental shift. We have to play to win, and not merely be happy with draws. I have had seven Tests with the team now, I think I understand our team and culture. I know the areas we need to improve on, particularly on the mental side of things in Tests. There’s a long way to go.
“There’s a fear of losing Tests, and that’s something that we have to come away from. We have to play to win. At the moment I feel we are playing not to lose. That mental shift will take a bit of time. Guys haven’t been successful in Tests. Until we change that mindset, we will always be okay with mediocrity. It is not something I want to be part of. We want to take the team forward and play the game to win. We have to bat first in tough conditions. We have to declare to give ourselves enough time to bowl sides out. Those are the shifts that you have to make to become a serious Test-playing nation.”
Domingo is in favour of playing five bowlers in the second Test too, but said he would consult with the selection panel and look at the pitch before taking a final decision. “I need to chat with the selectors this afternoon, but I think [playing six batters and five bowlers] is the way forward.
“When you have Shakib [Al Hasan] in the team, it allows you to play seven batters. When you don’t have that allrounder, we have to be brave, and try to have five bowlers who can get us 20 wickets. If it was solely up to me, it would be the way to go, but there’s a panel of selectors that need to be consulted with, and it’s got to be a decision that we all have to support.”
Whether it will be the same pace combination from the first Test – Abu Jayed, Taskin Ahmed and Ebadat Hossain – depends largely on how much they have recovered from bowling a combined 70 overs in one innings in the first Test under oppressive heat and humidity.
“I think they are our three leading fast bowlers at the moment. I would like to keep the same three going but I have to consider their workload from the last Test that ended few days ago,” Domingo said.
“Taskin bowled 30, Ebadat bowled 20  and Rahi (Jayed) bowled 19 overs. I want to make sure they are fresh and ready to give 100 per cent again in a couple of days. We have given them two days off. We just want to see how they feel in today’s light practice.”
Bangladesh’s batting, after a poor run of recent performances, was impressive in Pallekele. Najmul Hossain Shanto and Mominul Haque struck hundreds while Tamim Iqbal made fifties in each innings; Mushfiqur Rahim and Liton Das also made half-centuries.
“I am very pleased with the way they went about their innings in the first Test,” Domingo said. “Mominul has been a consistent Test performer for a period of time. Eleven Test hundreds is a fantastic achievement.
“I am really pleased with Shanto that he made a big score. It gives him a bit of belonging in the Test arena. It gives him a bit of confidence that he can do it if he sticks to his gameplan. It is great to have Tamim play that innings.”
Domingo was adamant Saif Hassan would keep his place at the top of the order despite scoring 0 and 1 in the first Test. “I definitely still want to give Saif Hassan a go,” Domingo said. “Opening the batting is hard in Tests. A lot of openers take a bit of time to find their feet.
“We want to provide him with another opportunity tomorrow. It is always nice to have a right and left-hand opening combination. Saif will play tomorrow.”
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo’s Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84