After a miserable spell of diabolic under performance in international cricket for almost the entire year in 2014 Bangladesh cricket team has just earned a hard fought success against Zimbabwe in Dhaka test yesterday in a keenly contested low scoring match .Only wins this year at international cricket was victories against Afghanistan and Nepal . Bangladesh desperately need to win the ongoing test series if possible comprehensively to improve its standing in ICC rating and move on with a target of reaching the raking of eight by end 2015 .
Let us try and objectively assess the Bangladesh achievement in Dhaka test which they could win only just struggling in chasing a small target of 101 on the third day of a test on a batsmen graveyard. We do not know which pitch doctor ordered such a treacherous wicket which almost caught Bangladesh napping. Luckily Bangladesh bowled exceptionally well and Mushfique led batting survived close call. It could be anybody’s game had the match proceeded on the fourth day or beyond. But nevertheless the test match witnessed the nail biting tensions and heart breaking excitement which makes test cricket the ultimate main format of the game.
Bangladesh won alright but the test has again unveiled the inherent weakness of Bangladesh team while batting in test matches. Openers failed in both the innings though the wicket very rarely assisted the pace bowlers. The opening batting of Bangladesh is in a spot of bother which needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Tamim received a delivery in the first innings which unexpectedly jumped off a length and grew big on him .He just could not avoid gloving it. Second innings witnessed a major top order collapse when three Bangladesh batsmen Tamim, Shamsur and Mominul perished in no time to Zimbabwean pacers before even Bangladesh was on board. What were the reasons? Is it lack of technique, lack of temperament or a combination of both? Hope our three star batsmen in the selection committee and Haturasinghe can assess and work on it.
Test match batting requires any batsman staying at the wicket for a considerable period of time and getting adjusted with the wicket carries on and let others revolve around. In the first innings Mominul after playing superbly got casually run out, Sakib did the same and I am ashamed to even mention how Shahadat ran himself out. These are very basic how to run between the wickets. One cannot teach this to a test player. Two other batsmen Mahmudullah and Mushfique scored half centuries but again failed to kick on .If any of them could play a proper test match innings there were no reasons why Bangladesh could not score 350 in the first innings which could put them in total command. I hope team think tank has taken due note of it and would do required mentoring and counselling. For sustained success in test level main batsmen need to learn how to convert forty fifties to hundreds and big hundreds. Bangladesh batting at this stage needs a Rahul Dravid (the wall), a Hanif Mohammad (the little master) or at least someone like Shivnarayan Chandrapaul (the Caribbean castle). This requires calm, cautious and cool batting temperament. I do not think Tamim no longer possesses it. But I have strong feelings that Mominul, Mushfique and Mahamudullah can do that if given right counselling by some senior Bangladeshi batsmen like Minhazul Abedin or Habibul Bashar. Test batting is not about scoring off every single ball. In test a successful batsman whether Vivian Ricahrds , Brain Lara , Sachin Tendulkar or Ricky Ponting all demonstrated which ball to score off, which to defend and which to leave . Mominul and Mushfique have admirable technique and they have good composure overall .Now some seniors can have quiet talk with them to give them some tips .May be Roquibul Hasan can do it . Let Sakib bat his own way and take the attack to the opposition .He has tremendous hand eye combination and can take any attack apart on his day. What worries me is lack of skill and temperament of Bangladeshi openers. Tamim has seen it all but what he still lacks is concentration. One good innings can take him back to his groove. I do not think Shamsur Rahman is an ideal opener at test level. Bangladesh must explore option. Marshal Ayub can be an option and may be tried .But he will be more suitable at middle order or late middle order. Mominul Huq is proving to be one of the main stay of Bangladesh batting for a long long time. What is really assuring his lazy elegance and unassuming attitude. I see a big future in him. He has the right technique, great temperament. What he needs is a little bit aggressive nature. This will come when he keeps on playing more tests. Honestly speaking I like to insist Mushfique bats at number four .He is the premiere Bangladesh batsman now having soild technique and right temperament .He knows how to build the innings and rotate the strike. He can unsettle the opponent bowlers and can guide young Mominul. Sakib can bat at number five and can consolidate upon the foundation whatever Mominul and Mushfique builds. Mahamudullah is again back to his form and in my opinion number six is his ideal position. Loss of form of Nasir has created few problems for Bangladesh batting in lower middle order. Shubhagato Home did not deliver. But instead of chopping and changing he can be given another opportunity to prove. I will like to play with one pacers in the second test at least replacing him if possible with another left arm spinner Arafat Sunny or drafting in Saqlain Sajeeb who had wonderful success against Zimbabwe A team in not too distant past.
Taijul’s brilliant bowling reminded me my Azimpoor Colony neighbor Nazmul Quader Lintoo the left arm Chinaman bowler who confused Conrad Hunt and John Jameson in the early days of Bangladesh Cricket. I heard Iqbal Sikandar during the recent Asian Games Cricket mentioned of two young left arm spinners to ICC President Mr AHM Kamal whom he saw in Bangladesh .I heard no one know about them now. I hope this will be not the case with Taijul. We have learned Saqlain Sajeeb has the best bowling action among the active left arm bowlers .He is an instant success in domestic circuit .Why not give him a break? Selectors have done wonderfully well in blooding Jubair the leggie .He must be given extended run. Bangladesh must look for a wicket keeper for the future .Mushfique being the main batsman and captain of the side can be gradually relieved from wicket keeping duty .Spinners can only succeed if there is an ideal keeper. Shane Warne always gives lot of compliment to Adam Gilchrist for his getting great.
Taijul Islam and Sakib tormented and teenager Jubair teased in the first test .Additional of another left arm spinner will add spices in the attack. Shahadat can have small sharp spells. I am not sure whether the wickets at Khulna or Chittagong will assist Bangladeshi pacers. Young Taskin after world cup will be ready for test duties. In the meantime Al Amin will also mature and couple of other youngsters will also grow I am sure if Bangladesh can conduct talent hunt and present sporting wickets. Some other good new pacers are already on the pipeline .Let Heath Streak mentor them.
We must not get complacent at all from the win. It is only the fifth test win in 85 tests and the third against Zimbabwe. We are still languishing at the bottom of the ICC test ranking. We looked shaky even chasing a small target of 101. May be our lack of habit of winning tests makes us nervous or panicked. We hope this win will give lot of confidence lot of self-belief. It is not our lack of ability of winning; it is definitely our lack of temperament which only starts developing with winning habits. What we need is a can do attitude among the tigers and the rest will start coming spontaneously.
Cricket is the uniting force of the nation. These days even Madrasah students in remote villages play cricket. The success of cricket team is admired by everyone across the political divide, faith, religion, sex and ages. We hope Tigers with a series win can act as good will ambassadors in creating consesnsus among divided political leadership on critical national issues.