Bangladesh v West Indies, 2nd ODI, Mirpur October 15, 2011

Volatile top order worries Bangladesh

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The crowd was still making its way into the ground, journalists were scrambling to their seats from the second-floor dining room when Mohammad Ashraful made his way back to the dressing-room after giving West Indies captain Darren Sammy a catch at second slip, bringing several collapses to mind.

The score was 1 for 3 in the second over the first thoughts naturally were of the infamous 58 all out at the same venue seven months ago. As Shakib al Hasan started getting the ball past the in-field, a few breathed easy but the image of Chaminda Vaas picking up four wickets in the first over of Bangladesh's 2003 World Cup game still came to mind.

After three sweet boundaries, Shakib wafted at a Ravi Rampaul delivery, the fast bowler celebrating before the catch was completed. Bangladesh were now 18 for 4 and thoughts went back further and into Test match territory. The Jermaine Lawson shutout took place two months before that World Cup debacle at Pietermaritzburg, the Bangabandhu National Stadium being witness of a collapse from 80-3 to 87 all out in the space of 31 deliveries.

There have been more such games: against India in 2003 and against New Zealand in 2002.

Like March this year, Pietermaritzburg eight years ago, Bangabandhu in 2002 or in any of the numerous instances, the collapse was hard to explain. Even the man who saved the Tigers from a proper skinning was left search for a reason.

The captain Mushfiqur Rahim, who saw most of the collapse from the other end and re-built the innings with Alok Kapali, Naeem Islam and Nasir Hossain, boldly criticised his batsmen for the madness.

"Even I don't have the answer," Mushfiqur said. "We won the toss on this flat wicket, as you must have seen there wasn't any sideways movement, though it wasn't such that we could have gone and started hitting. I think if our top-order had taken some time, like [Lendl] Simmons and [Marlon] Samuels did at first and then caught up, the scenario would have been different."

Collapses can still be prevented, especially by experienced batsmen. When Imrul Kayes had gone after Rampaul and edged the ball to Denesh Ramdin, Tamim Iqbal could have seen out the initial danger. Instead, he swung at Kemar Roach, slicing the ball all the way to third man. Ashraful and Shakib, who between them have nearly 300 ODI caps, didn't last long either.

"They are all matured players so instructions were not given in that way. Everyone knows [you have] to be careful after a wicket falls, to stop a collapse," Mushfiqur, who made technically sound 69, said. "In a Test or ODI, it is quite difficult to come back from this sort of situation. Everyone is told these things but today the ones who played shots, I think some of us played irresponsibly. It was our do-or-die match, we had to be more responsible. We depended on our top-order, but unfortunately, they couldn't deliver."

After Mushfiqur stabilised the innings Nasir, who made his debut in Zimbabwe with a half-century, showed composure in a more hostile environment before hitting his last 24 runs in 12 deliveries to give Bangladesh a late boost.

But the 221-run target seemed too easy for West Indies. "If they had scored 220 batting first, it would have been tricky for us," Mushfiqur said. "Credit to them, they didn't take early risks and then went after the bowling later on. There's a lot to learn from their batting."

Simmons, Danza Hyatt and Samuels displayed courage as they struck eight sixes and 17 boundaries on a track that offered turn. Shakib was the stand-out bowler, taking 2 for 30, but he had little support from Shafiul Islam, Rubel Hossain and Abdur Razzak.

Despite the trouble with the low-energy bowling attack, it would be the volatile top-order that would most worry Bangladesh coach Stuart Law. The only difference between this and all the collapses of the past was the recovery, though that amounted to little in the end.

Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • UKDarinda on October 17, 2011, 12:40 GMT

    When are the so called" TOP ORDER BATSMAN" will score some run? Tamim seems to have no care about the hope people/fans have on him. Any players can have a bad day/game, but our Batsman seem to have consistency in failure. Do you Tigers (now became CATS) don't have any self respect about playing for your country? Any National team will try to their last breath to defend, but you guys seem to play like kids who just like wacking with no technic applied. when are you going to learn? Ashraful should go, unless he has no self respect or shame left in him. This will give hope to our younger players.

  • Navid_Hossain on October 17, 2011, 8:23 GMT

    what the hell is ashraful doing in the team. what's his job or duty in the team. is he a batsman or what ? he can't bat, cant bowl, cant field but still getting more and more opportunities again and again.he is such a disgrace for bangladesh cricket.

  • Praxis on October 17, 2011, 6:53 GMT

    Only 3 games & we found a 'lifetime captain' in Mushfiq. That guy got what it takes maybe, but does anyone remember how happy BD fans were when Shakib was made captain? One or two bad series, all will start calling for this little guy's head too.

  • Rezwan1492 on October 17, 2011, 5:04 GMT

    Ashraful showed a clear sign to the BCB that it's time for him to apply for assistant coach. Wow, what a caught behind at slip. He can really help the Bangladesh team by training them in slip catches. BCB should make note of that. After the T20i and 1st one day, Alok Kapali also seemed unsuitable for the 2nd ODI and should have been replaced by Shariar Nafees who can go beyond the limits when it's necessary. Disastrous batting from the top order and coming back from that position and witnessing all these live at the stadium, I can proudly say that Bangladesh got the Captain of a lifetime. If our top order doesn't have patience or is reluctant to learn from other teams at least learn from Mushfiqur how to go on after such a disaster. I used to support Tamim a lot, but seems like he is completely going out of his game. That has been the main problem in the Bangladesh cricket, once you get your name, you are reluctant to take it further. May Allah bless us.

  • mrgupta on October 17, 2011, 4:23 GMT

    @Meety: I have read this a lot of times when people compare that India took 50 Years to get a decent team in place. Statistically speaking India at this same stage as Bangladesh (after 69 tests) had atleast 4 times better Win-Loss ratio and had taken Test wins against the Top sides like Eng and Aussies. India was under colonial rule for about 13 years since they started playing test cricket and later too they had little or no funds to train their players. Cricket was not a profession then and we struggled to get youngsters playing this sport. It took India 28 years to play the same amount of matches which BD has played in 12 years and even then Indian performance was way better than what BD has managed till now. Infact BD's performance in their first 69 tests is the worst, and that too by a good margin, in the history of test Cricket.

  • Fast_Track_Bully on October 17, 2011, 3:55 GMT

    When BD lost the ZIM, fans come-up with excuses...now at home too they are not able to win...SL, Ind, PK are Lions at home at least...BD seems to be CAT which is also in the Lion family! LOL

  • Meety on October 17, 2011, 0:47 GMT

    I've got the bagging of Ashraful off my chest, just want to say that Rahim is a very good player, he is averaging over 35 in ODIs this year. He looks to be a real captain unlike the reluctant Shakib, who I think will be better for not having the captaincy. @ legaleagle - dropping them from Test cricket will is not smart. They have talent, they have only been a test side for 12yrs. Time is everything, it took India 50 years to get a decent team, NZ 40, could be argued it took the Saffas about 60yrs. SL got very good in a shorter period of time, but had better infra structure. If the Bangas improve that, they will show better results.

  • Meety on October 17, 2011, 0:41 GMT

    I am a supporter of Banga cricket, but this obsession with Ashraful has got to end. He averages a 100 once in 65 games, yet Nafees hits a ton every 18 games & can't get a go. I'd give the following players a chance (in order for ODIs) ahead of Ashraful 1. Nafees, 2. Hom, 3. Jhural Islam, 4. Raqibal Hasan, 5. Siddique (although for tests he'd be #1), 6. Rajin Saleh, 7. Aftab Ahmed. There other unproven talents, the above list is just players that are BETTER than Ashraful. Ashraful please RETIRE!!!!!

  • M_Rakibul_Islam on October 16, 2011, 14:55 GMT

    I don't wanna see Ashraful anymore in National side except T-20. Nafees is the best choice for no.3 position. He should b in the main 11 in 3rd ODI.

  • Praxis on October 16, 2011, 14:22 GMT

    'Fragile', 'Volatile' top order? I would have gone with clueless. They simply don't have any idea what to with that wooden thingy when they go out to do their job.

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