Bangladesh cricket January 25, 2014

Bangladesh bank on inexperienced Robiul

Bangladesh's pace options have been depleted by injury and Robiul Islam finds himself the leader of the attack

Robiul Islam has a lot riding on him as Bangladesh head into a busy home season from next week. He is the leader of a pace attack that he believes is growing in confidence, despite a shortage of wickets, experience and personnel. The other medium-pacers in the squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka are Rubel Hossain and Al-Amin Hossain. Beyond them, Bangladesh's options are thin.

Mashrafe Mortaza has just played a first-class game after more than a year and is still readjusting to the longer format. He has not played a Test in more than four years. Nazmul Hossain has only just returned to competitive cricket after recovering from a knee injury, while 18-year old Taskin Ahmed is recovering from a knee injury. Abul Hasan's back injury will take a long time to heal.

With so few to choose from for Bangladesh, the current Test attack is carrying tremendous responsibility. Their stats aren't great, though. Al-Amin has played only one Test and is being considered an understudy; Rubel has 26 wickets in 18 matches at 78 apiece. While Rubel's recent ODI form might improve his confidence, Robiul will be the seamer Mushfiqur Rahim will bank on.

It isn't often that a Bangladesh pace bowler wins the confidence of his captain but Robiul's performance in Zimbabwe last April did that. He was the Man of the Series for taking 15 wickets at 19.53 apiece, including two five-wicket hauls. He has been injured twice since then, though, and missed the second Test against New Zealand in October.

Robiul recently recovered from a quadriceps injury and played domestic cricket regularly. He took seven wickets in two Bangladesh Cricket League matches, bowling conservatively in patches while also going at full tilt.

"The best part of the preparation was playing the two four-day matches," Robiul said. "I did a lot of experimentation with line and length, as well as the number of overs I bowled. I also varied my pace and made sure I attacked or defended by cutting out the runs."

Pitches in Bangladesh are deterrent for fast bowling, but Robiul is not using that excuse. He is banking on bowling accurately and squeezing out batsmen. "I always take it as a challenge because this is the best condition I will get at home," he said. "I bowled well in Zimbabwe partly because of the seam movement but I do the same thing at home. My approach is to cut out the runs in any condition, bowl economically. So the overall approach won't change much as I bowl in different conditions. Here at home, I have to be very patient to pick up wickets, and never lose hope."

Robiul has worked closely with Bangladesh coach Shane Jurgensen, who sometimes stands at the boundary edge when the bowler returns to the outfield after an over. Jurgensen's hands-on approach and no-nonsense attitude has been appreciated by most of the Bangladesh players. "Today Shane was helping out with my bowling action finishing well," Robiul said. "He is someone who treats everyone equally. I have never seen a coach like him. He doesn't have favourites in the team."

Having done a lot of work off the field and in domestic cricket, Robiul is raring to go. Of his seven Tests, he has had one bad game at Lord's in 2010 and two good matches in Harare last year. In between he has played sporadically, but has always been a fast bowler who isn't forgotten by a Bangladesh captain.

Robiul is one shy of picking up his 200th first-class wicket. He wants to make it a special moment and has targeted taking one off the first ball he delivers in the Test.

"I have had to make adjustments when bowling in home conditions, but if I or Rubel can give the team an early breakthrough or two, it will make life a lot easier," he said. "Both of us tried this during the BCL matches for South Zone, trying the hardest in the first spell of a game. I wouldn't mind taking a wicket off the first ball."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ESPN on January 27, 2014, 4:24 GMT

    Is the super then

  • Android on January 26, 2014, 4:30 GMT

    Warm Coffee. I don't agree about abul. what I've seen of him is that he is innocuous with ball, look at his stats. they are horrible. nazmul hossain is in my opinion still the best, but for some reason can't get in the team, instead guys like rubel continue to bowl their under 11 level stuff

  • Shoaib on January 25, 2014, 21:34 GMT

    What Bangladesh serious needs are express bowlers especially those that can swing the ball. The only one we potentially have is Abul Hasan but he has serious back problems and needs serious nurturing because he's some rare talent not just with ball but bat also.

  • Dummy4 on January 25, 2014, 15:46 GMT

    Its ok he can bowl welll he can also bat a little bit

  • Dummy4 on January 25, 2014, 14:28 GMT

    Bangladesh has very small pool of pace talent and in most test matches the pace attack seems toothless. The only recent good memory we have with pace balling is Robiul Islam's performance in Zimbabwe. We know the likes of Robiul Islam are not enough facing the experienced Lankan top order; Still Robiul's presence will give comfort to his team, his captain and the Bangladeshi fans.

  • Dummy4 on January 25, 2014, 13:59 GMT

    we gonna rock on test series...cmon tigers....

  • ranjana on January 25, 2014, 12:05 GMT

    If Bangladesh want to stay in the Test series take Mahela and Sanga cheaply and forget the limited overs while playing test. If you Bangladesh want to win the limited over series get Kusal, Mathews, Sanga and Mahela cheaply. If Bangladesh want to win T20s ............ sorry forget it

  • ranjana on January 25, 2014, 11:53 GMT

    Without prejudice I think Bangladesh will have a tough time with SL. Except Mahela and Sanga the SL team is a young one but they are a talented bunch of players in any format.

  • SMM on January 25, 2014, 10:03 GMT

    i would prefer rubel and alamin than robiul islam.

  • Shakhawat on January 25, 2014, 9:57 GMT

    Take a good preparation, play like a Tiger, you should challenge so called Big 3

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