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Bangladesh's marks out of ten, for the Test series against Sri Lanka
March 20, 2013
There were encouraging signs for Bangladesh in a series during which they set some records, but were ultimately on the losing side. ESPNcricinfo runs the rule over the 14 players Bangladesh used during the series.
Apart from becoming the first Bangladeshi batsman to make a Test double-hundred, Mushfiqur Rahim held the batting line-up together for nearly two days. He was the bedrock of the team's success in Galle.
In Colombo, Mushfiqur would have been expected to bat differently on a sporting wicket and a sluggish outfield. But he too fell, trapped by the team's negative mindset on a deteriorating pitch. By the time he launched a recovery in the second, Sri Lanka had a firm grip on the game.
His wicket-keeping has been largely sound, including only the second instance a Bangladesh wicketkeeper has taken five catches in an innings. He took five in an innings against India in Dhaka in 2010, so he remains the only wicketkeeper to do so. But there has been the odd misses, which thankfully didn't gnaw at him too much.
Apart from playing the odd wondrous innings, there are not many lists that Ashraful finds himself on the top of. During this series, the inscrutable batsman came good by tweaking his game in Test cricket.
He missed a double-hundred by just ten runs, and one assumes it was the expectation of reaching the milestone that did him in. But the preceding 416 balls or the innings were played by a batsman matured to his age. He was run out in the first innings of the second Test, and was undone by being tied up at one end in the second innings. This is however a start Ashraful can take off from, especially by settling himself at No. 3.
He has continued on his good form in this series, and the only difference in Sri Lanka has been the maiden Test hundred at Galle. Batting at No. 7 in a Test match, Nasir has given Bangladesh the option of having a fresh batsman to take on the second new ball on most occasions.
He has also improved his batting against the short ball, considered one of his weaknesses when he first arrived in international cricket. Nasir's enthusiasm can sometimes bring about his downfall. Against Rangana Herath in the second innings in Colombo, a cooler approach would have been expected, but he decided to throw caution to the wind. A quality bowler will always have the advantage if he is too willing to take a risk in a delicate situation.
The offspinner, playing in only his second international series, has given Bangladesh the belief that all is not lost without Shakib Al Hasan. Sohag Gazi was the automatic choice to lead the bowling attack in the absence of the all-rounder, and he has not done too badly.
The seven wickets he took may have come at a high average and strike-rate, but he has much left to learn in his trade. He has done whatever a half-coached player could do, but the only difference is that Gazi has been asked to do it at international level.
He can only improve from this, and with the building blocks already in place, much is expected from the offspinner. His potential with the bat has also not gone unnoticed. He can cut a niche for himself lower down the order. With him at the crease, the other batsmen can have the confidence to rotate the strike, and not just farm it.
The left-handed middle-order batsman made two fifties in his first two Test innings, but in the Bangladesh batting line-up these days, fifties should not be the end product. Mominul Haque has batted well in Sri Lanka, but his approach of staying busy at the crease with a calm exterior, should yield more runs.
He has very few technical difficulties to attend to, though there are areas for him to improve. Playing for Bangladesh is a big deal for someone like Mominul, but he will quickly grasp that a position in the middle-order is not one to give away.
He could be the opener to partner Tamim Iqbal in the long-term. Jahurul Islam has showed that he can take on good pace bowlers, and may even master the art of handling quality spinners soon. But he has to start scoring some runs, otherwise a return to Test cricket after almost three years, will go to waste.
He gave a good account of a solid opener in both Tests, but gave away the hard work by untimely dismissals. He has been scoring heavily in domestic competitions in the last five years, so he needs to replicate such form into top-level cricket. His catching however hasn't been up to the mark, but he has shown willingness to field in crucial positions.
Tamim Iqbal He was part of this series for just the two innings having missed the first Test due to injury. But the second innings in Colombo showed why Tamim Iqbal is such an integral member in the side. He made a fifty in no time, but it was the manner in which he batted that showed the batsmen they shouldn't have too much to think about the wicket.
One area he has to improve on is the number of Test centuries he has hit so far. There hasn't been one since 2010, so he is mindful of the extended period.
For a player with a stop-start international career, Robiul Islam did a decent job of taking four wickets in the second Test. Apart from playing his last Test in December 2011, the last competitive match he had played before this match, was in January this year.
He fared better than all the other pace bowlers by trying to maintain a proper line and length. He tried everything against Kumar Sangakkara, but came up short. It was quite uplifting for the other pace bowlers too, though his fitness caught up after he missed part of the second day's play due to cramps.
Only the slightest can be expected from a cricketer who has played very little first-class cricket in the past, so Abul Hasan's performance can only be seen as an improvement. At least his bowling average is becoming more respectable with every wicket he picks up.
But Abul has won praise from Sangakkara, for bowling quick over a period of time. There were flashes with the ball that would excite any Bangladeshi captain, but there has to be a concerted effort to keep an eye on his training regimen. Bangladesh doesn't want another injury-prone fast bowler, especially one that can hold his own with the bat too.
Another pace bowler who is injury prone, especially since last year, but Rubel Hossain has again showed what potential he has in Test cricket. That hasn't translated into wickets for him, though he is known as a quick learner by the coaching staff.
He has bowled quickly in this series, sometimes topping the 140kph mark, but it has not been with regularity. With the second new ball, he troubled the Sri Lankan batsmen in the first innings but again, it was only in short bursts.
In only one Test appearance, Anamul Haque has showed frailties as an international opener though it can be quickly remedied. He probably believed that there is a different way to play Test cricket, and it is hoped that his concept changes quickly. He has scored heavily in domestic and age-group cricket over the last three years, and a similar method can be utilised in Test cricket.
Both his dismissals looked poorly thought out, but again, he is a talented batsman who has the ability to adjust his technique. He has scored runs in Australia in the Under-19 World Cup, so that should give him confidence in easier batting conditions.
The only saving grace for the Bangladesh vice-captain has been the three wickets he has picked up in the two Tests. Otherwise, it has been a strangely poor series for him with the bat. He charged down the wicket and gave away his wicket in the Galle Test, when all others around him scored heavily. It was another forceful shot that had him dismissed in Colombo, before a beauty from Herath ended his series with just eight runs.
He has had troughs like this in the past, but not after such a high. Mahmudullah was Bangladesh's best player against West Indies earlier in the season, playing a major part in the team's ODI series win. He is expected to return among the runs, because it is quite clear that he is not an out-of-form batsman.
The left-arm spinner had nothing to show for from the 40 overs he bowled in the Galle Test. He wasn't the only bowler having an ordinary time in that game, but Sunny showed little sign of the bowler who debuted so well against West Indies in 2011.
His fitness left a lot to be desired, and there wasn't much he could offer at Galle too. He picked up just the one wicket, and unless he improves drastically, Shahadat Hossain could well be a spent force in Test cricket.
Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondentFeeds: Mohammad Isam
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