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The openers saga: Guess the numbers (2006)
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Good news! The Tigers are in peak form right now. They have recently won their very first Test, Test series and ODI series. We have never had the fortune to see so many in-form Tigers roaming around. Mashrafee is back, and he is back with a bang! With his new found strength with the bat and wilyness with ball, he is in rare form.

Target: England

Published: 8th April, 2005

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Good news! The Tigers are in peak form right now. They have recently won their very first Test, Test series and ODI series. We have never had the fortune to see so many in-form Tigers roaming around. Mashrafee is back, and he is back with a bang! With his new found strength with the bat and wilyness with ball, he is in rare form.

Old veteran Rafique is still there to confuse anybody around. Of course there too is Bashar, hook and pull are two of his middle names. Don't forget Rajin, had not he already shown you that ODI is not any unknown jungle to him? Our little wonder Ashraful is there as well, waiting to show how real Tigers look like. And yes, there is Rana too, who with all his limitations, will not leave a penny behind without fighting. Not to mention the new comers, who are waiting for any opportunity to prove themselves. On top of all these, there is not any big injury problem holding them back. No wonder their spirits are sky high. Who can stop them? Well, there is some bad news as well.

Bad news, Tigers are about to face the biggest challenge of their history. Even though they have been to England before and played a few ODI matches, they never played any test there. Besides, the condition of early summer in England is something we do not crave for. Not to mention that England is the second ranked test team in the world right now. Then there will be this Natwest Trophy where Bangladesh is set to face Australia and England. Everything together, if the picture of a blucher's house comes to your mind and you feel like a lamb, no one will blame you.

So, where do we stand? We are facing a huge challenge, but we do have our best team available in best condition. Do we have anything to be optimistic like some fans here, or we need to be pessimistic like others? Instead, let us have a look at what we can realistically expect and what we should aim for.

Talking about test series, we are not in a condition to hope for a result. An optimistic mind would say, if we never try, we will never succeed. Honestly speaking, we do not have that luxury to try it out this time. Our goal in test should be, first make them bat second innings and second, extend the game to the fifth day. We need to focus session by session on the game and move to the next target once first one is achieved. In this game plan, if everything works out nicely, we can finally move the third target. I have not stated it yet, but probably you have imagined it already since there is not a huge difference between playing in the fifth day and drawing the test, especially when things go in your way. We should not let our imagination fly beyond that. Yes, we are going to beat England in test, just that not in this tour. We have to wait for the upcoming opportunities.

What should we target for the ODI tournament? As of today, it is a fact that no one can beat Australia. If we try, we might end up making some kind of record that we do not want to hear about. Therefore, it is better to play safe against them and make the lose look as good as possible. What about our other opponent, England, who is a huge power in test cricket? Fortunately for us, they are not as good in ODI as in test. Even though their ODI ranking of eighth does not say it all, but it does not conceal a lot either. We will not risk too much by going all out against them. Keep in mind that the ODI series will be after the tests and we will have a better idea about the pitches by that time. Moreover, the pitches will dry up a bit and will be friendlier for our batsman. We should play the ODI matches against England to win, does not matter what the outcome is. It is very likely that we will lose to them, but we need to make sure we give them a run for their money. This is a place where an ill-performance cannot be tolerated.

Beside these main result oriented goals, we still have some side business to attend there as well. Finding a permanent answer for the opening pair is a leading one among them. In ODI Rajin-Nafis pair has shown some promise recently, and it will not be wise to break it until it has been thoroughly tested. In test, however, we have some problem. Javed Omar has not shown much promise lately and he is not getting any younger. Someone has to take over for him very soon, and Shahrier Nafis is a good candidate for it. He should be tested in all the practice matches, and if clicked, should get a test cap. Finding a partner for Nafis Iqbal is one of the biggest tasks in this series.

What is the biggest problem of our batsman? There should not be any doubt about the answer - inability to play swing. Time and time again we have observed top order collapse due to swinging ball. Since ball does not swing much in subcontinent, it is hard to get much practice to improve in this area. Well, we have this chance now. Our batsman should practice playing swing. Not only during the actual matches, but also in the net, they should spend most of their time practicing on it. It is not possible for countries like us to send players aboard on regular basis to improve on things like these. We need to make good use of the opportunities that come in our way.

We should also use this tour to get an answer on what should be our strategy of bowling attack. One side argues that since spin is our strength, we should fill up our arsenal with spinners. The other side says that no, our attack plan should be dependant on pitch regardless of our strength or weakness. Well, this is going to be a big test for pro-pitch people. England condition at this time is the best suit for pacers and if our pacers fail to prove themselves there, there should not be any confusion on how we should arrange our bowling attack. A big problem is that there is nothing for the pro-spin people to be happy about if the pacers fail. No team can be very successful without a good pace attack, and if the pacers fail, that would simply mean that the spinners has to make it up for the team until quality pacers come up.

There are a few more things that we need to keep an eye on, and reducing or eliminating top order collapse is the most important of them. Learning to adopt new conditions, gaining mental strength to face strong opponent, getting rid of inferiority complex, coming up with a more consistent team combination and things like these also should be in the agenda.

 

About the author(s): Rubu Islam, a BanglaCricket staff, goes by the nick "Rubu" in BanglaCricket forums.

 

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