June 1, 2000

Complete metamorphosis in Bangladesh batting

Bangladesh's batting seemed to have taken a U-turn after their dismal performance against Sri Lanka in the previous match. For once, the recovery in the batting department was identical to that of the ground after the heavy rain. Although India did not have a strong bowling attack, the 249 made by Bangladesh was a more than respectable score put up by the rookies.

When last match's saviour Javed Omar was bowled and Shahriar Hossain once again went early, it seemed Bangladesh would crawl in to a shell and never come out, as they did against Sri Lanka. That was not the case this time. Habibul Bashar with captain Aminul Islam, started off cautiously, but then began to free their arms and make their strokes. They no longer had problems with the short delivery, as they played it quite late, often guiding it to third man or square leg. Anything pitched up to the Bangladeshi batsman was quickly dispatched to the boundary.

It was all going along fine for them until Sachin Tendulkar was brought on and he claimed both of their wickets. It was obvious that the Bangladeshis underestimated Tendulkar's bowling talents, and thought it would be a good idea to really go after him. Akram Khan and Naimur Rahman then slowly led another recovery taking the score 158/4 after 40 overs, with a score of 200 seeming most likely. That was the time that the Bangladeshis came out of their shells and simply took the Indian bowling apart. Akram simply exploded on each bad delivery, and the Indians were not short of those.

After Kumble and Joshi had been smashed all over, Ganguly brought himself on, and that was a very regrettable mistake. He was brutally punished by Akram, in an over that cost the Indians twenty runs. When Ganguly went back to his regular bowlers, Agarkar, the best in the Indian side, had Akram caught trying to go for another lusty blow over the top. The ever aggressive Rafique who came in join the part only lasted just five deliveries but he made his impression by hitting Kumaran for a huge six, straight into the side screen. Naimur Rahman, who played a fantastic innings although lurking in Akram's shadow, along with Enamul Haq made the finishing touches taking six runs off the last four balls, after Rafique's dismissal.

This was one of the best batting displays in the final overs I have ever witnessed from any team. The Bangladeshis made 91 off the last ten, and truly it was a more than praiseworthy performance. For once, they had a gameplan, that is, they knew what they were doing. They had Habibul and Aminul to steady the innings, while Akram and Naimur attacked the bowlers and it was quite an assault.

Posting this total, the skipper may have been pretty happy, but that smile did not last so long. The strength of the Indian batting and the inexperience of our bowling was the perfect recipe for disaster for the Bangladeshis. Our bowlers were simply not good enough for the Indians, who have arguably the best batting line up in the world. One critical mistake made by skipper Aminul was to open the innings with a spinner.

Poor Rafique was taken for fifteen runs off his first over, that was after Manjurul had bowled a very tidy one-run over to begin the innings. That expensive over really set the Indians free and boosted their confidence ski high. They no longer believed this to be a respectable attack, and were prepared to go after every single ball. Ganguly leading from the front attacking the bowling continuously, making a magnificent hundred. For once, he was not on the receiving end of some brutal punishment. However, the Bangladeshi fielding had improved a great deal since the last one. Every one was prepared to dive around the ground, including the likes of the bulky Akram Khan.

It seems obvious that the good total put up by the batsman had boosted the morale of the fielders, since they thought they actually had a chance. It would have been possible if the opposition had a more fragile batting line up and we actually had a bowling attack.

It seems the Bangladeshis learn a lot from each game, hopefully their bowling will learn some lessons before the next encounter against Pakistan, who the they beat in one of the greatest World Cup upsets ever last year. The Pakistanis will be very cautious and looking not to make the same mistakes twice, The Bangladeshis although not in with a very realistic chance, can look forward to improve on yesterday's performance, to show the Pakistanis what they are made of.