ICCCT: Bangladesh vs. South Africa: A Review
Bangladesh again played "like Bangladesh play". It was a dismal performance after so many efforts, practice matches and high expectations, expressed in the press conferences. The whole performance by our team was just unacceptable, disappointing, unprofessional, dreary and miserable. There were plenty of mistakes and blunders at all stages of the game like final team selection, captaincy, batting, bowling and fielding. Let's review all these in brief.
Final Team Selection:
It was surprising to find that the final team was formed keeping the most experienced bowler for ODI's Khaled Mahmud as 12th man. It was proved during the practice matches that Bangladesh faced much problem by keeping him on rest. It is quite understandable for practice matches to find the best combination for the real big game. But there is no merit in keeping him outside and opting for Mushfiq. And Bangladesh has paid for this to some extend: Mushfiq could neither score a single run, nor prove himself a worthy bowler.
Captain's First Decision:
Rajin Saleh in his very first decision as a captain did a blunder by choosing batting, which was totally unconventional in those conditions. It was a suicidal decision, for which cricket experts expressed their surprise. The TV commentators were expressing their surprise for this decision very often during the game and cricket media also expressed the same in the reports. The match report by Wisden Cricinfo is captioned as "Bangladesh hand South Africa welcome win" and the report starts with the sentence: "Bangladesh's gamble to defy convention and bat first came unstuck as South Africa skittled them out for 93 and then knocked off the runs for the loss of one wicket with more than 32 overs to spare." Rajin might be young enough not to understand the impact of those conditions, but there were experienced people around him to guide him in advance. If the decision of batting was taken just to avoid chasing high scores, then that was totally unproved by our fragile and collapsing batting line.
Fielders closer to the batsman were found not much attentive even with their postures
This department was a total failure and did injustice to our growing reputation. The way most of the batsmen were being dismissed was unacceptable by any norms. Most of them were batting, as it appeared, in utter inconfidence. They were batting defensive, with a sort of stiffness and without any footwork. It was very upsetting to watch that most of our batsmen lack of understanding the merit of individual balls and apprehend their fight. Most of the time they react very late when the ball is just going out with a flick, which ultimately resulted in a large number of catch outs by slip and the wicketkeeper.
The most impressive and easy batting was performed by the young blood Nafees Iqbal. It was unfortunate to see him out after getting set only due to not controlling his temptation of big hitting, which was trapped by N. Boje. Khaled Masud's role as a supporter to Nafees and play in the front line after his departure is also very praiseworthy. But the way batsmen like Ashraf, Rana, Rafique, Mushfiq and Aftab were out is totally unacceptable. Aftab was leaving a lot of ball outside off stamp, which was appreciable, but I cannot understand why he wanted to hit a bouncer to end his innings.
Bowling and Fielding:
Bangladesh team was selected with an unbalanced pace attack, as I mentioned earlier. Nazmul as a debutant did well during his 6 over bowling conceding 2.83 runs per over. He was unfortunate not to get his maiden wicket when Ashraf dropped the catch, which was the main fault of Bangladesh fielding during the short stay of 18 overs. The most lousy and miserable bowling was done by Mushfiq, who in my opinion does not deserve to be kept in ODI squad. His bowling was quite slow, missing the lines and of a little shorter length, which made it easy for the batsman to have enough time to see the flight of the ball and hit it comfortably. It is not acceptable to concede a run rate nearly 8.5, where other bowlers bowled with an average of 4.1.
Bowling record for last ten matches revealed that Khaled Mahmud got 11 wickets with BA (Bowling Average) 29.54 having BB (Best Bowling Figures) as 4/19 against Mushfiq's record of 7 wickets with BA 41.0 having BB as 2/21(Source: Wisden: Stats Guru). One significant observation about our fielding is that, at the time of bowling, fielders closer to the batsman were found not much attentive even with their postures. This is one of the main reasons of dropped catches. They just drop it because they are not prepared for it. The replay of Ashraf's dropped catch also revealed this fact.
We have high quality Coach, Trainer, Action Analyst etc, to take care of all these stuff, at least, to give the team a professional look and practice; but why our players cannot perform properly, why their weak points are getting exposed to even amateurs like us?
How long we shall have to watch this type of heartbreaking episodes, this is today's question.
Note: This review was written immediately after the match before any interview with Bangladesh Captain and Coach was published , which might reveal some facts in controversy with the contents of this article.
The author is a distinguished member of banglacricket forum and goes by the nick "Sam" - editors