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BanglaCricket's Shameran Abed once again brings you a BanglaCricket exclusive report on the 2nd day's proceedings from Fenner's, Cambridge.

Bangladeshis vs. Brit. Unis: Second day review

Published: 11th May, 2005

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My report for the day unfortunately will lack any coverage of one of the most dramatic events of the day; Ashraful's hundred and his dismissal. I had arrived at the ground today at about a quarter past eleven, ruing the fact that I had missed a quarter of an hour's play, only to find that the game had been started early to make up for lost time.

Again the sun played games in the morning, showing itself in glimpses and the first half of the morning session was more cloudy than sunny. However, the bowlers did not do very much other than to bowl a more disciplined line than they did for most of yesterday and our two batsmen, Omar and Rajin played very defensively. It was boring cricket to say the least for the first hour of the morning (or atleast the first hour I watched).

Javed Omar started slowly but continued from where he left off the night before once he got his eye in again. It was very much a similar story to yesterday with him being harsh on balls pitched up and comfortably defending anything on the stumps. He did not look troubled at all in the morning, but played a lazy shot to the left-armer to get out in the early afternoon. Pehaps one piece of roast too many in his lunch.

Rajin Saleh's batting was similar to Nafees Iqbal's. He looked rusty and was very tentative with his shots. He nudged a couple of singles but didnot really look all that comfortable. I was hoping at the time that I would get an opportunity to write that he started off poorly but played himself back into some sort of form, but he played a bad shot to get out, hitting a ball outside off-stump straight to the hands of the point fielder. It was too adventurous a shot for someone who was not middling much at all and he should have had the sense to stick around and get some decent batting practice out there. The opposition will only get tougher from here on and this was his chance to spend a bit of time out in the middle.

Khaled Mashud batted as he usually does, with a lot of purpose. He came out and was immediately looking for the gaps so that he could run some singles and his arrival to the crease jump-started the Bangladesh innings after a very pain-staking partnership by Omar and Rajin. Mashud played reasonably well and will only get better the more balls he faces in England. He keeps things simple, which is rare among Bangladeshi batsmen and a useful quality for a batsman trying to come to terms with English conditions. He was out playing a pull shot and having the catch plucked up a few inches off the ground by the square leg fielder. It really was not a bad shot - he just did not get on top of the ball enough to get it down before it reached the fielder - rather a case of falling to a fantastic bit of fielding.

Mohammed Rafique batted as he always does, having a go at anything that took his fancy. He hit a couple of decent blows and then got caught by mid off while trying to loft one down the ground. Not much to say here, we know Rafique and what he is all about.

The revelation of the day, batting wise, was Mashrafee Mortaza. His batting looked superb and without trying to sound overly dramatic, he actually looked better as a batsman than some of our top order batsmen. He middled almost everything and played a couple of cover drives for four that would have made any of our top order batsmen proud. He played the seamers with ease both sides of the wicket and really could have fooled the English spectators into thinking that he is a top-order batsman. Perhaps his maiden FC century has boosted his confidence. He got out trying to play a lofted drive off the left arm spinner when perhaps forcing the pace was the instruction from the dressing room. Mashrafee's technique is good and he obviously has an quick eye. If he continues working on his batting, he can become a genuine all-rounder for Bangladesh.

Tapash Baisya played doggedly as he always does. Shahadat Hossain Rajib, on the evidence of today, is very much a number eleven, out by playing on, off the pads, to the left-arm spinner.

Overall, the batting was good without being dominant, apart from the periods when Ashraful and later Mashrafe to a lesser extent were unleashing some top-notch shots. The total that Bangladesh made was respectable, and I am reasonably happy with it given that it is their first match of the tour and a couple of the guys seriously looked out of touch. The major disappointments were Shahriar Nafees and Rajin, as both gave their wickets away.

I would like to mention a few technical observations about the BD batting. Firstly, I noticed that most of our players have a slightly open stance, even when facing right arm over the wicket bowlers. I do not really understand why this is and they would be better off in my opinion to get more side-on to the right arm bowlers in swinging conditions. In any case, a lot of our batsmen also do not bring the bats down straight, rather, with the slightly open stance, the bat comes down from pointing towards gully and this in my view increases the chance of getting edges to the slips. A bowler like Hoggard will surely exploit this.

Secondly, and this might sound trivial to some, our batsmen seem to play with sub-standard bats. Most of the time, there was a loud ugly thud that echoed around the ground when the ball hit the middle of the bat, and when the ball was not middled, it sounded like the bat is breaking in half. However, when the Universities side came out to bat, there was plenty of the crisp clucking sound that you expect when the ball hits the middle of the bat. Anyway, just an observation. Picking up a few Gray-Nicholls sponsorships along with the couple of county contracts that we are hoping for would not hurt.

Our bowlers came out to bowl in the mid-afternoon with the sun shining brightly and no clouds overhead. The pitch and outfield had also dried out under the pretty harsh afternoon sun. I should say at the outset that their bowlers definitely got the better of the conditions.

Mashrafe started quite casually and sent down some pretty harmless overs during which he ambled up to the crease and bowled without putting his back into it much at all. In his first three or four overs, he did not bowl much quicker than the Universities bowlers had, and this was slightly disappointing as I had been waiting to watch him bowl upfront for a long time. However, he probably did not want to push himself too hard, which given his injury history, is understandable.

Tapash at the other end struggled with both his run-up and his line. He was bowling quicker than Mashrafe at this point but was no-balled quite a few times and strayed on to the leg-side often, getting hit for four on each occasion. He took his first wicket with the only ball in his first spell that he got right. The ball pitched on off on a good length and moved away just a shade to take the edge to Ashraful at second slip. He looked jubilant after he got the wicket but his bowling deteriorated and he was quickly taken off the attack.

Enter Rajib, the man I had been waiting to see more than anyone else in this match. I have to say, he did not disappoint. He is definitely very quick, probably a tad quicker than Mashrafe. But more impressively, he is tall and uses his height well. He comes off a very long and straight run-up and bowls with a high arm action. He hit a good line almost from the get go today and bowled a pretty quick and fiery first spell. The great thing about it was that watching Rajib steam in seemed to ignite the fire in Mashrafe at the other end. As soon as he had Rajib at the other end bowling quick and aggressively, Mashrafe too sent down some very quick overs; creating all sorts of problems for the Universities batsmen. This was by far the best passage of play for Bangladesh while they bowled with both bowlers bowling with speed and accuracy. It was only right therefore that both got wickets during this spell, both batsmen edging to the slips.

Tapash bowled much better in his second spell when he was brought back from the other end. His no-balls continued almost throughout the day but his line and length were good and he deserved his second wicket, trapping the batsman plumb in front. However, it was quite clear from watching him against the Universities batsmen today that Tapash will have to be very disciplined in his line and length. He neither has the pace nor the height to get away with loose deliveries, and the batsmen took full advantage everytime he got it wrong.

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Rafique took a wicket in his first over when the batsman padded up to a straight ball and was correctly judged LBW. However, he looked totally harmless thereafter. The batsmen blocked him away for most of the evening and scored some runs as well down the leg-side everytime he strayed. Strangely, he started off bowling from over the wicket (round the wicket for him) and did that all evening. I thought he should have bowled a couple of overs from his more usual round the wicket position. But I suppose with the wicket taking very little spin, he felt safer bowling from over. The 6th wicket partnership really seemed to have gotten a measure of Rafique and played him quite easily, which is a little scary.

Mashrafee's second spell was very much like the way he started his first, completely lacking in purpose. Again he ambled up and bowled and it did look like he was more interested in trying to make his body go through the motions rather than getting the batsmen out. I think he might have even had instructions not to go all out, so I will not make much out of his bowling today. The three or four overs in the middle when he bowled in tandem with Rajib proved what he is capable of.

Rajib's second spell was similar to his first in the sense that he really put in a lot of effort and bowled with considerable pace. He also obtained some impressive bounce off the otherwise harmless wicket. He did not appear to move the ball much, but maintained a good line and length. He had a good shout for LBW which the umpire turned down, but he definitely hurried the batsmen on several occasions.

The part-timer bowlers, Rajin and Ash, were completely ineffective.

The bowling overall was decent. Rajib was the most impressive because he put in the most effort, obviously trying his best to get a place in the team for the first Test. I wa s impressed with his attitude, as he kept running in and banging the ball in, even late into his second spell when the wicket had completely dried out and the two batsmen were batting quite well. He did his chances no harm. Mashrafee is evidently easing himself into the tour and even without putting in the effort, did not bowl too badly. Rafique bowled decently on a pitch that did not offer him anything. Tapash was the weakest link and he will have to bowl more consistently against better opposition.

The fielding was very good. The slips took all the catches and the ground fielding was generally good. A couple of balls went through now and then, but that is expected in the first game on tour and when the fielders are not about to give their lives to stop the boundaries.

A good day's play I would say. It would have been perfect had we got another wicket before the close of play. Hopefully, Mashrafe and Rajib will start off the procedings tomorrow and get a few early breakthroughs so that we can get this side out for about 250 before settling in for another long bat, perhaps with Shahriar Nafis opening instead of Javed.

 

About the author(s): When Shameran Abed scored his first (and last) half century at the Nirman Championships, those fortunate enough to watch him bat were soon locked in debate about whether he was a future Lara or a future Tendulkar. Sadly, for all his talent and early promise, he was never able to repeat his feat and was duly dumped from his school side, which prompted him to take up coaching the girls squad! This largely explains his crusade on the BanglaCricket forum against all talentless performers, and his love for all talented underachievers, a bunch with whom he can identify. He goes by the nick Sham and although he was given the honorary title of BanglaCricket Advisor, most of his advice is usually laughed at and then deleted so as not to waste space on our limited server.

 

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