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A Postmortem of Our Batting (2004)
Our chances against India (2004)

 
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The weakness of Bangladesh's batting was once again embarrasingly exposed by the Indian bowlers. On a placid pitch that offered some early assistance to the bowlers, but evened out quite nicely as the sun shone through, Irfan Pathan bowled with pace and swing to rip through Bangladesh's top order very quickly.

A Postmortem of Our Batting

Published: 22nd July, 2004

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The weakness of Bangladesh's batting was once again embarrasingly exposed by the Indian bowlers. On a placid pitch that offered some early assistance to the bowlers, but evened out quite nicely as the sun shone through, Irfan Pathan bowled with pace and swing to rip through Bangladesh's top order very quickly.

Bashar's shot was particularly frustrating. He has shown a tendency to play some premeditated shots in the past and this was once again on display in the cross batted shot he attempted against Pathan. It seems he sets himself up for a big drive whenever the ball is pitched up or a pull whenever it is dug in short.

Now if every full ball could be thumped to the cover boundary or every short ball muscled to square leg for four, there would be many batsmen in this world with more runs than they currently have. Bashar needs to realize that one has to play the ball not only on length but also on line and often defence is the best form of offence. With the ball moving around a bit as it was in the morning, it boggles the imagination why the captain chose not to get his eye in before unleashing his cavalier shots.

Rajin Saleh has looked out of sorts the whole tournament and the trend continued in this game as well. Following these early dismissals, came a period of play which allowed the millions of Bangladeshi fans to harbor some hopes of a creditable total. Ashraful and Kapali batted with grit, determination and patience to build a thoroughly entertaining partnership. Both batsmen refrained from any adventerous shots and instead chose to rotate the strike with some deft strokes and wonderful running between the wickets.

But as is often the case for our team, this partnership was broken more through a fault on our batsmen's part than through the efforts of a bowler. One only has to look at the replay of the delivery that got Kapali out to realize just how dangerous a sudden lapse of concentration can be for an international batsmen facing an international bowler.

Tigers at a video session

Tigers at a video session

Faisal Hussain impressed with his compact and uncomplicated batting style as well as his running between the wickets. His dismissal is one of the few in our innings for which an Indian bowler can take credit rather than a Bangladeshi batsmen taking the blame.

Harbhajan bowled with wonderful line and flight and his arm ball had troubled all the batsmen who faced it. Bangladeshi batsmen do not seem to be able to read a ball from the spinners hand and rather rely on reading it off the pitch. This was apparent in Faisal's dismissal when he attempted to cut an arm ball which pitched on off and thudded straight into his pads. The left handed batsman had clearly been expecting another off break from Harbhajan which would have spun away after pitching. It would be wise for the Bangladesh batsmen to look at videos of some of the major spin bowlers in the world so that they are better able to read the ball out of the hand as opposed to reading it off the pitch.

Following this dismissal, the innings was effectively dead and though our ever dependent lower order chipped in with some valuable 10s and 20s, it became apparent we would never have enough runs to pose any serious threat to India. Looking at the scorecard, one can see that 5 out of our top 7 batsmen got a reasonable start, but none with the exception of Ashraful had the determination or the temperament to carry on and make a meaninful contribution.

As Michael Slater pointed out in his commentary, that is something that will come with time and experience.

However, no team of international standard should be giving 3 of its wickets to the likes of Sachin Tendulkar. To say he is a part time bowler would be an exaggeration. True he has the knack of picking up an odd wicket and breaking an important partnership, but it is inexcusable for our top order batsmen to have gifted him the wickets the way they did.

For Rana to be bowled behind his legs while attempting to sweep Tendulkar is not only embarassing but also worrying. It shows a fundamental lack in technique in playing the sweep. One must cover his stumps with the pad before attempting such a shot and Rana, unfortunately for him and for Bangladesh, failed to do so.

The question must then be posed, if you are not comfortable playing a certain shot or lack the technique to play it, why are you attempting it in the second round of an international tournament?

Once again, it is possible that with more time and experience our youngsters will be able to overcome these shortcomings but one cannot help but lose a bit of patience when our cricketers make the kind of mistakes that only club cricketers make.

Another disturbing sign was our tendency to lose wickets in pairs. We lost our first 2 wickets with the score on 10, 2 more with the score on 92 and 2 more again with the score on 117. That is certainly not the way to build a challenging total in any form of the game.

Much of our problem stems from the inability of our openers to see out the new ball or post enough runs within the first 15 overs. This puts our middle and lower order under enormous pressure to not only form big partnerships but also maintain a decent scoring rate.

To put things in perspective though, Pakistan managed to muster just 122 against Sri Lanka in the other game of the day so we are not the only team in the tournament who has been having problems with their batting. But while Pakistan remains a hugely talented and unpredictable team, we seem to be talented but rather predictable. We seem to be making the same mistakes over and over again.

So while Pakistan goes from making a 300 plus score one day to 122 all out in another, we trudge the road of mediocrity and consistently post totals in the 180 range. That is not good enough.

Hopefully with the return of Javed Omar in the next game and the return to form of Ashraful, we will have a more solid foundation to our innings: one which will allow the likes of Bashar and company to settle down and play out some big partnerships. One cannot help but be a little worried about Muralitharan and indeed even Chandana or Sanath Jayasuriya.

With our batsmen failing to play Tendulkar's gentle toss ups with any degree of comfort, how much can we expect from them against the Srilankan spinners? That is a sobering question the team and we fans needs to think about as we look forward to the next game.


The author is a distinguished member of banglacricket forum and goes by the nick "samiur666" - editors

 

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