<
>

Mortaza escapes with trimmed attack

Shakib Al Hasan and Sabbir Rahman helped Bangladesh seal their highest ODI chase AFP

Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza said that the decision to retain eight specialist batsmen in their line-up against Scotland was in anticipation of a top-order collapse. They had considered replacing Mominul Haque with left-arm spinner Arafat Sunny, but seeing some grass on the Saxton Oval pitch on the eve of the game swayed them towards Nasir Hossain.

"There was a point in the match when we were in a difficult position," Mortaza said. "It was a risk to play without the extra spinner. We went ahead with an extra batsman. We have never played at this ground before so we got a bit confused seeing some grass on the pitch. In one of the matches, the team batting first [West Indies] lost three or four early wickets.

"To be honest we took the extra batsman thinking what if we lose two or three wickets early in the morning? We still felt that our pace attack and spinners are good enough to keep them within a score of 290."

With a quarter-final place in the offering, the team management placed more value in protecting the top-order that had made sluggish starts against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Mortaza's decision to field first was further protection of their batsmen, giving them the best possible batting conditions in Nelson. Thankfully it paid off. Tamim Iqbal, Mahmudullah, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan and Sabbir Rahman combined to complete Bangladesh's biggest ODI chase.

But as early as the second over, it was evident that Bangladesh would be using spin more than pace. Opening the bowling with Mashrafe, Shakib Al Hasan's tossed up deliveries were obediently defended by the Scotland openers. It gave more room to the notion that spin bowling helps Bangladesh dominate against non-Test playing batting line-ups.

Since gaining the Test status in 2000, Abdur Razzak has been their most successful bowler against such opponents, and a similar mode of attack in the form of Arafat Sunny (who also bowls flattish left-arm spin) to complement Shakib could have slowed down the Scotland charge.

Further evidence was the measure of control shown by Sabbir Rahman and Nasir Hossain, both more part-time than they were at the start of their domestic careers. Mahmudullah attempted Shakib's method but was thwarted by Matt Machan, the only Scotland batsman who was willing to use his feet to the spinners. But spin remained king of this attack, with Nasir bowling four and Shakib and Sabbir two each in the last 10 overs.

Both pace and spin gave Bangladesh four wickets each but the former gave away 163 runs at 7.1 per over while the latter conceded at 5.7 for 27 overs. Taskin's late wickets helped improve his bowling figures but like Rubel and Mashrafe, he bowled far too many deliveries down the leg-side or short despite seeing how comfortably it was tackled by Kyle Coetzer and co.

What would worry Mashrafe furthermore is the number of times Bangladesh have given away 300-plus totals - this was the second time in a row in this World Cup. They conceded such totals only twice each in the last two years, but now they have given away 300-plus in two of their first three bowling innings in 2015. Scotland also became the first non-Test playing nation to score 300-plus runs against Bangladesh (Kenya did so in 1997 when both sides were Associates).

Mashrafe said that the bowling attack is good enough to keep sides under 300, and they will discuss the matter further ahead of their crucial game against England in Adelaide.

"The bowlers should have restricted them to 280 runs," Mashrafe said. "But I am happy to see Tamim, Riyad, Mushfiqur, Shakib and Sabbir score runs, and they will take this confidence to the England match. I will especially thank the batsmen for chasing down such a big total with such calmness.

"We have to function with this bowling attack. I believe we have the ability to do much better than the last two performances. The wicket was really good. I feel it is possible to restrict teams to 280, rather than 318, even on these wickets. We cannot afford such bowling everyday so we will discuss among ourselves, how to bowl according to the wicket. Hopefully, our bowlers will come back."