England v Bangladesh, 1st Test, Lord's May 25, 2010

Uphill task for Bangladesh

Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan
A statistical look at Bangladesh's struggles to stay competitive in away Tests

The two-Test series in England represents an excellent, and increasingly rare, opportunity for Bangladesh to show that they belong at the highest level. They've had mixed results in the recent years, but some of that is also because of lack of opportunity. The best way to improve for a fledgling team is to play more matches, but the ICC has done them no favours on that front: in the last four-and-a-half years they've only played ten away Tests; in the period from January 2001 to December 2005, they played 23 overseas Tests, with tours of Sri Lanka (thrice), New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, Australia and England. More recently, overseas matches have been far more difficult to come by: there were none in 2006, and only two tours in 2007 and 2009. This year they got a one-off Test in New Zealand, and though Bangladesh lost by 121 runs, they were hardly disgraced, scoring 408 in their first innings.

The England tour, though, could be more difficult: the last time they toured, Bangladesh lost both Tests by an innings. Thanks to those and several other similar defeats, their overall numbers are pretty dismal: just one win at home, and two, against a depleted West Indian outfit, away.

Bangladesh's home and away record
Matches played Matches Won Matches lost Matches Drawn
Home 33 1 28 4
Away 33 2 29 2

Bangladesh have scored more than 400 runs in an innings on seven occasions, but only twice in away Tests. On the other hand, they have been bowled out for scores less than 150 in away Tests on 19 occasions, which indicates how much they've struggled with the bat - overall they average less than 19 runs per wicket in away matches.

However, it isn't as if their bowling has been much better: they've conceded almost 58 runs per wicket, which indicates how toothless their attack has been. It hasn't helped, of course, that Bangladesh's batsmen have given the bowlers very few runs to play with, forcing them to bowl with defensive fields. Their fielders have been pretty generous as well, making even more uphill for their bowlers.

Bangladesh's batting and bowling stats in away Tests
Matches played Wickets lost Batting average Wickets taken Bowling average Strike rate
33 643 18.86 271 57.89 94.5

You'd expect Bangladesh's batsmen to struggle more in conditions outside the subcontinent, but their overall record indicates they've been equally poor both in the subcontinent and outside. In fact, their batting average outside the subcontinent is marginally higher. The bowling, though, has been terrible, with an average of almost 67 runs per wicket. (The table below excludes matches in Zimbabwe and all stats from the tour to the West Indies in 2009, when the home team fielded a second-string side.)

Bangladesh in away Tests in subcontinent and outside (excludes Zimbabwe tours and 2009 tour to WI)
Matches played Wickets lost Batting average Wickets taken Bowling average
In subcontinent 12 240 18.83 106 57.48
Outside subcontinent 15 298 19.86 107 66.81

Bangladesh have generally struggled against fast bowling overseas, but what's equally disappointing is they haven't done a whole lot better against spin either, averaging 22.24. Graeme Swann could thus be as big a threat to Bangladesh as the fast-bowling might of James Anderson and Co. Stuart MacGill (17 wickets at 12.88) and Daniel Vettori (17 at 23.29) are among those who've feasted on the Bangladesh batsmen.

Performance of Bangladesh batsmen against fast bowlers and spinners in Aus, Eng, NZ and SA
Type of bowler Runs scored Overs Wickets lost Average
Pace 3709 1171.2 205 18.09
Spin 912 317.0 41 22.24

Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan have been the two batsmen who've scored runs with some consistency in away Tests, and they'll be expected to do more of the same in England. Mohammad Ashraful has scored more than 1000 away runs, but he averages less than 21. Tamim, Shakib and Mahmudullah, who's been a superb find recently, have contributed nearly 40% of the team runs in away Tests for Bangladesh.

Performance of Bangladesh batsmen in all away Tests since 2001 (min qualification 400 runs scored)
Batsman Matches played Runs Scored Average 100 50
Habibul Bashar 28 1637 30.31 2 11
Mohammed Ashraful 26 1038 20.76 2 4
Tamim Iqbal 7 525 40.38 1 3
Shakib Al Hasan 7 462 38.50 1 2
Mushfiqur Rahim 10 423 22.26 0 2

Shakib stars with the ball too in overseas Tests, averaging 26.18 for his 27 wickets. Every other bowler averages well over 40, while the strike rate for most bowlers is also poor.

Performance of Bangladesh bowlers in away Tests (min qualification 20 wickets)
Bowler Matches played Wickets taken Average Strike rate 5
Shakib Al Hasan 7 27 26.18 58.2 3
Mashrafe Mortaza 16 27 49.03 86.1 0
Mohammed Rafique 15 34 51.58 98.5 3
Shahadat Hossain 13 21 58.66 78.0 0
Manjural Islam 13 20 62.00 111.6 1

Bangladesh's partnership stats in away Tests indicate how poorly their top order has fared. There are no stands of more than 30, and only the first two wickets put up average partnerships of more than 25. The middle order has been abysmal, with the averages for the fourth and fifth wickets dropping to less than 15. The lower middle order have been involved in a few rescue acts, but Bangladesh will need to do much better to test England.

Performance of Bangladesh batsmen per wicket in Tests outside subcontinent (excluding West Indies and Zimbabwe)
Partnership Wicket Runs Scored Highest partnership Average 100 50
First 741 161 28.50 1 3
Second 762 108 29.30 1 4
Third 485 66 18.65 0 2
Fourth 342 37 13.15 0 0
Fifth 368 70 14.15 0 2
Sixth 564 79 21.69 0 2
Seventh 509 145 19.57 1 1