Bangladeshis vs. Sussex: Second day report
I arrived at the county ground at Hove at about half past eleven to find that the Sussex score was ticking along with their overnight pair of Yardy and Ambrose playing our bowlers without much problem. Both Mashrafe and Rajib bowled a more disciplined line today than they did yesterday, but did not produce any chances for wickets. Talha looked even more toothless. Despite an improvement in his line from yesterday, he could not threaten the batsmen at all. As noted in Imtiaz Kabir's report on Day 1, it really was amazing that so few balls were actually allowed to go through to the keeper.
Enam bowled just as quickly and flatly as he did yesterday, but got some assistance from the pitch today. He got a bit of turn from a pretty quick delivery to get his first wicket caught behind. His second one was even more satisfying, with the ball straightening nicely after pitching to uproot the batsman's off-stump. The third was similar, but the batsman got a pad in-between ball and stump this time. Yardy at the other end seemed hardly perturbed by all this, as he notched up his 250 and in the process broke the record for the highest score by a Sussex batsman against a touring side, a record that was made in 1946 against India!
Aftab was once again the pick of the bowlers. His pace or lack thereoff made it difficult for batsmen to put him away and he was careful not to offer much width either. It looked like he had figured out his line and length better than our main bowlers have figured out theirs' and I feel he will be quite handy with the ball in the Test matches.
The batting today was completely in shambles. Nafees played some good shots and looked in better touch than the last time I saw him in the first innings against British Universities. But then he followed a rising ball outside off-stump from Lewry and gave a simple catch to the keeper. Shahriar Nafees was more adventurous than his senior partner and played some good shots as well. He looked quite good in defence and in his strokemaking and I hoped to see a big innings from him. But he got undone when he tried to glance through the leg-side a low skidder from Luke Wright. He would have done better to have played it straighter. Ashraful also fell victim to a similar delivery form Wright, who is a deceptively quick bowler off the pitch. He is the kind of short and skiddy bowler that is always difficult to play against.
Bashar played a few false strokes in the beginning but was just getting to terms with the pitch and the bowling when he was hit by a nasty bouncer from Lewry. He opened up for a hook, but the ball broke through his visor and left a deep cut down the middle of his forhead. Thankfully, a cut is about as bad as it seems to be for the captain, with signs of no other adverse effect one can suffer from getting hit on the head. Although it happened too quickly for the spectators to realize, it might well be that the ball broke the visor, which then scraped his forehead. This is quite likely as he didn't look disorientated from the blow, just in pain from the cut.
Aftab got out caught behind to a quick delivery from Johanes Van der Wath. If any of you were wondering after reading my day 2 report from Fenner's what I meant by saying that our batsmen were making themselves unnecessarily vulnerable by employing an open stance to the bowlers, just watch Aftab's dismissal in the second session highlights provided by Sussex TV. I admit that Van der Wath was very quick --- the quickest by quite a distance in either side --- but Aftab's dismissal is a classic example of the bat coming across the ball rather than straight down on it. It was frustrating to watch.
Mushfiqur Rahim awkwardly fended his first ball over the slips for four and it didn't seem at that point that he would last too long. But he surprised me with is grit and determination, and even more so with his technique. He is shorter than Ashraful and Rajin, if anyone would believe it, and has a wonderfully compact technique. He looked good in defence and pushed the balls around for a lot of singles as well. Rajin at the other end also played quite well and seemed to feed off from Mushfiqur's self-assured batting. The two seemed to stop the collapse and took the team into tea. I left the ground when the rains came about an over into the last session, and it looks like I cleverly avoided further pain and humiliation.
It was not a good day for our team. I wrote on the Bangladesh Cricket forum a couple of months ago that we will get thrashed by England if we played as well as we did against Zimbabwe. My words came back to haunt me today. The worst part was, we looked a much inferior side to a weakened Sussex. While their batsmen played our bowlers with complete ease, their bowlers made our batsmen look like a middle school batting line-up facing the mighty Aussies. We will have to raise our game for the rest of this tour. As for tomorrow, our batsmen have to play out the day to restore some respectability to the scorecard and salvage some pride for themselves.