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Shahid A. Hashmi
As expected, Pakistan's first tour to Bangladesh was a one-sided affair, with the visitors strolling to victory in both Tests and all three one-day internationals. By the end, Bangladesh's Test record read: played 11, drawn one, lost ten. Seven of those defeats, including both in this series, were by an innings, and doubts about the wisdom of granting Bangladesh Test status grew louder. Of the other Test nations, only South Africa had fared as badly by this stage of their development - they too lost ten out of 11 between 1888-89 and 1902-03.
But Waqar Younis, the Pakistan captain, was adamant that judgment should not be made too soon: "I think Bangladesh deserve time, and should not be pressurised... Sri Lanka took some 15-20 years to improve, and Bangladesh should also be given the same time." If the wider cricket community was prepared to wait for performances to pick up, there was less patience from the Bangladesh board. While Trevor Chappell, their Australian coach, blamed his batsmen - "they commit the same mistakes again and again, and need to learn to apply themselves, to bat in sessions" - the board blamed Chappell. Eleven weeks after this series, he was sacked.
He had a point about his batsmen. Often they treated the Tests as though they were limited-overs games: in only one of their four innings did they score at less than three an over, despite the regular fall of wickets brought on by reckless strokeplay. (Yet in the subsequent one-day internationals they were unable to raise their rate much above four.) The sole batting success was Habibul Bashar, whose two half-centuries were marred by a habit of throwing his wicket away. Nine Test fifties and only one hundred suggested unfulfilled potential.
Bangladesh's bowling showed signs of gaining maturity. Mohammad Sharif, a medium-fast seam bowler, was the most dependable, taking six of the 18 Pakistani wickets to fall, at 32. Fahim Muntasir, an off-spinning all-rounder, picked up his first three Test wickets at Chittagong, and the more experienced Enamul Haque four at Dhaka.
Despite being deprived of Test cricket for four months by the political fall-out from September 11, Pakistan had few problems. They dominated every sphere of the game, and in Yousuf Youhana and Danish Kaneria had much the most destructive batsman and bowler. Youhana hit a magnificent double-hundred in the Second Test, while Kaneria's leg-spin continued to bewitch the Bangladeshis. In their meeting at Multan in the Asian Test Championship at the end of August, he had taken 12 wickets; now he added 13 more to give him 25 in three Tests at an average of 11.12. Scorecards suggested several other Pakistan performances of note but, against weak opposition, their value was hard to fathom. Certainly Abdul Razzaq enjoyed his tour. In both forms of the game, he toyed with Bangladesh, hitting a career-best 134 in the First Test (when he also took four wickets) and then taking six for 35 - another career high - in the third limited-overs international.
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