It was a predictable end to the 2nd match between England and Bangladesh. The familiar story of a strong first innings showing and then the meek surrender the general pattern of the cricket played by the Tigers was prevalent again. However despite the loss it was my view that this series against England seem to be slightly different in a positive sense as Bangladesh was first able to take the game to the 5th day in both Tests and also come up with a spirited fight which was for some reason lacking in the past and hardly seen before.
May be Shakib has inspiring qualities as a leader and younger blood infused seem to flow better! The absence of the senior pro though young in age Mohammed Ashraful and the rest appears to be a positive rub off though one feels that Ashraful in particular has done no justice to his talent. As a player and in ability Ashraful stands equal amongst the best but the major issue seems to be in his application and temperament. On his day as a batsman he could match the very best and it is a major drawback that he is not part of the Bangladesh cricketing line up.
Bangladeshi cricket captain Shakib Al Hasan plays a shot during the fifth and last day of the second Test match between Bangladesh and England at the Sher-e Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka on March 24, 2010. England were set a target of 209 to win the second and final Test after bowling Bangladesh out for 285 in their second innings after lunch on the fifth day. AFP
However despite these, the spirited resistance shown by the Tigers in the series is a definite factor to reckon with and the batting and the resistance of the lower order at least up to no.9 has been commendable. In the four completed innings of the series the lower order was called in to play and it was indeed heartening to see them putting their hands up! Mushfiqar Rahim who came in as a teenager to the side is firmly in the saddle as their main wicket keeper and this series only enhanced his reputation as an all rounder, i.e. batsman and keeper.
Another factor emerging strongly from the Bangladesh camp has been their positive and aggressive approach. For the first time in many series the batsmen weren’t afraid to attack the bowling at any stage of the game. One remembers the 5th day of the first Test when Bangladesh resumed looking down the barrel chasing a mammoth target and the attitude of the over night pair was not one of survival. Instead they had the determination to win written all over them and the body language was excellent and positive. Before that the first innings recovery engineered by Mushfiqar too was similar in style and attitude. Attack and being positive!
The second Test was no different in the batting department. The first day of the Test was a huge bonus with runs on the board and in the second innings resuming six down and very little in the bag, the skipper Saqib supported by the tail played great cricket looking to set England a target and possibly stretch them as much as they can. True England made it easily by nine wickets but the new found fighting spirit in the Bangladeshi camp is something nobody could possible deny.
The only weak link in their line up is the bowling with no bowler of wicket taking class being available to them. Young Rubel Hossain who could bowl in the high 140’s was always a threat without being consistent with no proper support from the other end. The spin bowling too was very thin with just Saqib looking impressive. Both Razak and Mhamadullah were too plain and were easily dealt with.
One doesn’t need rocket science to state that Bangladesh needs at least two to three world class bowlers in their line-up. Whilst the problem seems to be easily identified it will be up to their board to look at unearthing a bowler who could win games for them. Sri Lanka did that first with Muralitheren and then with Ajantha Mendis and they seem to be successful treading on that path with plenty of young spinners and fast bowlers appearing on the scene.
That unfortunately is the issue plaguing Bangladesh which has to be arrested fairly soon and may be in the not too distant future. One other interesting and more than that a challenging factor that lies ahead of the Tigers is their forthcoming tour of England this summer! Very few teams have tamed the Lions in their own back yard and it is no secret that Bangladeshi’s are going to be up against it. But what will be interesting is to find out how they would cope with foreign and unfamiliar conditions and whether the youngsters who put their hand up were really stars or shooting stars.
That only time will tell but what is certain to me is that Bangladesh cricket has taken off and that we cant deny.
Roshan Abeysinghe is a leading cricket promoter and an international cricket commentator