England v Bangladesh, 2nd npower Test, Old Trafford, 1st day June 4, 2010

Shafiul provides more evidence of Bangladesh progress

Bangladesh are providing England with a tougher examination than anyone expected at the start of the season

If Bangladesh cricket is measured on the basic principle of victories and defeats, it makes for depressing results. Instead their progress has to be judged by smaller success; individual hundreds, career-bests, five-wicket hauls and pushing the opposition hard. On all those parameters, this series is offering real hope for the future.

Bangladesh are providing England with a tougher examination than anyone expected at the start of the season and after making the hosts toil in the field at Lord's, the bowlers produced a much-improved display to ensure the opening day at Old Trafford was a tight contest. In all probability this Test will still finish as another hefty defeat, but that doesn't have to mean all is lost.

At Lord's it was the efforts of Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Junaid Siddique and, to a lesser extent, Shahadat Hossain which meant the 'positives' that sportsmen so often talk about were tangible. However, the visitors' performance with the ball on the opening day at Lord's drove their coach, Jamie Siddons, to distraction - "I was ready to get on a plane," he said before this match - and he may have had a familiar sense of foreboding as Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook eased to 44 without loss in 11 overs.

This time, though, there was a significant difference. Even though Shahadat was spraying the ball during a disappointing first spell, at the other end Shafiul Islam was making the batsmen work for their rewards. At no point at Lord's was there ever really any control from the attack, as Rubel Hossain and Robiul Islam looked barely first-class, but Shafiul's inclusion changed that.

He isn't a superstar - a Test bowling average of 68 is stratospheric for the wrong reasons - but he has at least mastered a few basics in line and length. The lack of pace bowlers coming out of Bangladesh will continue to hold back their development, yet while finding someone to bowl 90mph isn't proving possible, they should at least be able to produce bowlers that are less than cannon fodder. Shafiul showed it can be done.

He looked a decent prospect when England toured Bangladesh earlier this year, although suffered in the face of an onslaught from Eoin Morgan as his hundred snatched England's victory in the second ODI in Dhaka. Better bowlers have felt Morgan's force. What brought success here was a nagging line around off stump which tempted Strauss into a loose prod before he conjured a fine off-cutter to send Jonathan Trott on his way. His first spell ended with the impressive figures of 9-2-18-2.

"I just bowled a few outswingers, then tried one the other way," he said modestly about Trott's dismissal. "I wasn't disappointed to miss out at Lord's, the selectors picked what they thought was the best team."

Sadly his participation in the remainder of the day was limited to a further five overs after he was struck by cramp. However, his absence didn't mean that England's progress was serene. Far from it, really, on a pitch that offered Bangladesh's three spinners considerable encouragement.

"The wicket has taken us a little bit by surprise - the amount of turn on day one - and conditions were a little more helpful for them than we thought they might be," Ian Bell said. "It was a tricky day, they made us work very hard."

Shakib Al Hasan bowled far better than his figures suggest and regularly beat the outside edge of the right-handers with deliveries that grip, spun and, crucially, bounced. Turn is only one element for a spinner; without the bounce they become far less of a threat, as was discovered in Dhaka and Chittagong back in March. If Mushfiqur Rahim had got glove instead of knee on an edge from Bell when he'd made 36 England's innings could have looked very different, while Matt Prior survived a close lbw shot against Abdur Razzak.

"I though Shakib bowled fantastically well," Bell said. "Not every ball spun which made it harder, with the odd one skidding on it was hard work. With ring fields it's hard to keep the run-rate up. It made us graft a bit harder when there wasn't pace on the ball."

"Credit to Bangladesh again, they made us work hard as they did at Lord's," he added. "In the four Tests we've had recently they haven't been the pushover people expected, especially in England, and we've had to work hard for the positions we are in."

For Bangladesh, that can be classed as progress.

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on June 5, 2010, 18:53 GMT

    Now that was surprising isnt it ? People kept saying about how further Bangladesh cricket has come,I dont deny that. They have found some players who are really good. But what about finding replacements for someone like Mohammed Ashraful. A man with loads of talent, but going nowhere. To reach any kind of a Test Playing status in the forthcoming years Bangladesh has to come up with bench strength and currentlly they lack big time. About some bowler bowling at 90.4m, yeah well look at his other stats...a strike rate of 136. Guess that answers that.

    People keep complaining about India loosing in Zimbabwe, well its a second string team. 7 regular starters are missing. And inspite of that it feels bad that we lost and the score board will say India lost twice to Zimbabwe...but everyone back home knows theirs more truth to it then numbers reflect. SoI am not denying Bangladesh has talent, but to compete on a world stage they lack a lot. Its the same names repeating with the big scores.

  • Rajiv on June 5, 2010, 15:38 GMT

    I am happy to see BD playing well. As for the Indian posters picking on BD how long did it take India to win their first test match on foreign soil? I am an Indian myself but am embarrassed at the churlishness of some of these posters. I think cricket needs to be saved from the clutches of the corrupt Indian cricket administrators and the only way this can happen, unfortunately is for India to keep losing these T20 games so that the public gets tired of their non performing prima donnas and stop showing up at the farcical abomination that is IPL.

  • Dummy4 on June 5, 2010, 13:28 GMT

    They(players/BCCI/supporters) are busy for making money through IPL. Its their one and only passion! And another passion is to criticise Bangladesh using nasty words all the time in cricinfo.!!!and in evry cricketing blog/website. May we know why? Just learn something from Tamim, Sakib..! We are ready to wash you away once again from ODI worldcup! nd next time it will be on BAY of Bengal! so, get ready for the battle in Dhaka!

  • Mahmudul on June 5, 2010, 12:31 GMT

    Bangladesh playing this test by thare quality. No one supported us for cricket. Some people use to say India helped us to get test staatus, its totally wrong. I will say India distroying our cricket image. Because of IPL, ICL. In IPL a lot of white skin players are playing, but they never look at Supper powr tamim Ikbal, not even world best allrounder Shakibul Hassan. I will say Pakistan helped us a little bit, because in every year a lot of player from pakistan comes to play in our domestic ligue, it helps to improve our cricktors mind. what do you think guyes??

  • Mehdi Hossain on June 5, 2010, 12:28 GMT

    Not only Ashoka.Look at Billy. If it was not for him then Prior would have been out yesterday.......and may be England would have been 275 for 7 or 8.

  • Bang on June 5, 2010, 12:16 GMT

    India emerged only as a countable cricket power after Sourav started showing his aggression and was kicked out being Bengali as the reward. I have been an Indian supporter all along and I remember how many times the cowardice of Indian team embarrassed me. The Indian players these days show very flamboyant and super-confident outside, but again they embarrass me to succumb to any tough opposition. I must mention, it was New Zealand who lead the encouraging role of extending help to Bangladesh in playing international cricket and not only that, on every occasion Vettori and other NZlanders acknowledge how much they suffered to come up with wins in the past. Only Gavasker from India has few encouraging words (with late admission by Harsha Bhogle). All others pretend that India had been a super power since its emergence as a cricketing nation in 1932. I must mention, Ravi Shastri sometimes sounds as if he is not aware that Bangladesh are playing cricket :)

  • Dummy4 on June 5, 2010, 11:00 GMT

    On the first day, Shafiul was timed at a max speed of 90.4 mph. Its astounding why a team ranked number1 in world doesn't even have one genuine 'fast bowler'.

  • Mohammad on June 5, 2010, 10:33 GMT

    One mentioned that without Indian support Bangladesh wouldn't get test status, where did you get this information? It was actually Australia who has been supporting our cricket since we have got test status and big thanks to them. Current English media also seems so favourable for us as well which we never received from Indian cricket board. As much as we/ our cricketers respect international senior cricketers, its actually few Indian players who were so harsh to our cricket/players. We fortunately have been receiving much respect from opposition like Australia or England not in terms of a star value, but as a fellow international cricketer. It shows they are truly big and champion.

  • Mohammad on June 5, 2010, 10:32 GMT

    Lord's test should open your eyes that we have more than 2/3 capable players, they are just not clicking together in a same match where we are losing. About umpiring, we have paid heavily because few of their mistakes in crucial moments in last 10 years. Current Indian team no way are among the top two, they are media hyped and their financial muscle perhaps helping to earn praise from media to some extent. Apart from their few cricketing legend, their new bunch don't seem so impressive. Yes they can dictate in flatter pitch, but they will be falling down every time against Australia, South Africa in proper pitch. Especially ongoing surrender against Zimbabwe doesn't show any bright prospect for you, does it?

  • Mohammad on June 5, 2010, 10:30 GMT

    Thanks Andrew for your positive writing about Bangladesh cricket, I was thanking Andrew Miller few days back and its cool to see you are showing up! We need to put few things in perspective; this is pointless comparing Bangladesh cricket with Indian cricket as there should not be any comparison. But what we can argue is whether both the team are enjoying balanced praise from media or experts or even from respective fans. As much as I disagree with the notion that Bangladesh can't qualify to play test cricket, I completely disagree with the suggestion that India is the best cricket team. Bangladesh is ever improving and they really can push any test teams between sessions but falling apart every time because they are lacking to sustain the pressure for prolonged period of time. Individually we have got players who can play international standard innings or same level of bowling spell, and let me tell you it's not only Tamim or Sakib....contd.

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