December 20, 2001

Bangladesh should not relax

At last the Test match was on its way. We better call it a "three-day' match and since the first two days were swept away with the rain. The match started when the tourists gave up all the hopes to fight against one of the better teams of the world on their home soil. It was an acid test for Bangladesh at the beginning, which now has turned out to be a lot easier task for them after the rain. But is it really easier?

New Zealand have managed 306 loosing 5 wickets in a pitch like Hamilton where any skipper would like to field first. Khaled Masud was the luckier one to escape the batting thanks to the blessed "toss" he won. This is his first Test as a skipper and he is facing a real tough tour.

Bangladesh's tours to Zimbabwe did not upset the fans quietly. Though the two Tests they lost, they fought well. They managed to take the second Test to the fifth day and shunned the innings defeat. But the horror was waiting in Multan and Colombo. The giant Pakistan finished the match before the lunch of the third day. Though the wicket was absolutely batting-friendly, Bangladesh succumbed to kaneria's not-so-harmful leg breaks. The match was awful.

In Colombo the history almost repeated itself except a brave century from the most junior member of the team that helped the team to past three hundred. Murlitharan alone was enough to polish off the Bangladeshi line-up. The match ended at the last hour of the third day.

So, in away, against stronger opponents Bangladesh has two valid records to be defeated with in the limit of three days. New Zealand, with its current form as we saw against Australia, is no less gigantic than Pakistan or Sri Lanka. Besides they are one of the most formidable powers in their home ground.

Bangladesh went for six batsmen (Including Mohammed Ashraful) and four pace bowlers. The tail of the squad is weak. Left arm Enamul Haq was ignored. Mohammed Sharif is playing instead of him. Sharif was unsuccessful in the Test against Zimbabwe held in Chittagong. He bowled well but remained wicket less; on the other hand, Enamul bowled brilliantly and got a couple of wickets in that Test. He is a reputed all rounder too.

All three tail-enders Mashrafe, Sharif and Manjural have little or no reputation with the bat. If Enamul would be taken instead of Sharif (gave 87 runs in his 16 overs) the line-up would have been stronger undoubtedly.

As for bowling Mashrafe is playing up to his mark removing Vincent for a duck and capturing 3 wickets for 82 in his 23. Khaled Mahmood's has been included for his batting capabilities. Once again his gentle medium pace proved unfruitful in the longer version. He bowled only 8 overs to concede 34 runs. Ashraful should not be tagged as an all rounder any more as he could not pull off any success with his harmless leg-break so far.

So, two more days are waiting to see what happens in the Bangladeshi batting order. We should be optimistic but not pompous. There is no way we could be self-assured because we left records that say we could be beaten within three days!