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April 12, 2003, 07:27 PM
Looking into batting blues

Sports Reporter

The atmosphere in and around the Banga-bandhu Natio-nal Stadium yesterday can be best described as one of sheer dejection.
Understandably the topic of discussion was Bangladesh's woeful batting in the opening match of the TVS Cup against India on Friday.

Some vented their anger by saying that the score of 77, Bangladesh's second lowest one-day total, reflected the true strength of our cricket. A few however opposed, saying that Bangladesh is capable of doing far better at the highest level if only they overcome their apparent mental block. While the debate raged on, the Bangladesh team arrived at the BNS.

The national players had a tough net session under unbearable heat and it was evident that the batsmen were under scrutiny. Coach Sarwar Imran even raised his voice a number of times in pointing out elementary mistakes in their technique.

The team management however decided to give the bowlers an off day appreciating their effort against India.

"We rested the main bowlers as we didn't want them to become exhausted," said Imran. The former fast bowler rolled back the years by bowling a few trademark outswingers in the nets which tested Javed Omar, Mohammed Ashraful and Co.

Imran said that he was more interested in focusing on the basics rather than going for wholesale technical changes.

"It is not possible to drop five or six players purely because they are not performing. My immediate task is to make some minor adjustments and try to make them play with a straight bat," said Imran.

"If the openers can see off the first ten overs then it would relieve the pressure on the rest of the batsmen," he added.

At the end of an hours training Bangladesh captain Khaled Mahmud faced a volley of questions on why the team had slumped to such a low and how they intend to regroup after such a nightmarish start.

"I have talked to the players and most of them said that they didn't have confidence," said Mahmud.

He also said that the team is going through a disaster-manage-ment phase.

"We had a serious discussion since the defeat and we have identified certain areas which need to be corrected. We have also decided to give each member of the team specific targets which they must strictly follow on the ground," said Mahmud without elaborating.

The beleaguered Bangladesh team was also scheduled to attend a brainstorming session with former South African off-spinner Pat Symcox last night. Symcox is now in Dhaka as part of the STAR Sport commentary team. The Bangladesh Cricket Board is also eager to involve other members of the commentary panel like Indian great Sunil Gavaskar in rubbing off their cricketing wisdom on the players.

Manager Col.(Retd) MA Latif Khan, a firm believer in discipline, said that it was unrealistic to expect any massive improvement in the next match.

"We have virtually no time to regroup ahead of the South Africa game. We are still trying to instill the spirit de corps which is so essential in a team environment. With time you will see the results," said Latif.

April 12, 2003, 07:31 PM
1. Waqar Younis (Pakistan) v West Indies at Sharjah in 1993-94 (21y, 354d)

2. Sachin Tendulkar (India) v Sri Lanka at Sharjah in 1996-97 (23y, 126d)

3. Javed Miandad (Pakistan) v West Indies at Karachi in 1980-81 (23y, 162d)

4. Moin Khan (Pakistan) v India at Sharjah in 1994-95 (23y, 196d)

5. Kapil Dev (India) v Sri Lanka at Amritsar in 1982-83 (23y, 249d)

6. Alistair Campbell (Zimbabwe) v Australia at Colombo in 1996-97 (23y, 338d)

7. Stephen Fleming (N Zealand) v Sri Lanka at Christchurch in 1996-97 (23y, 358d)

8. Hansie Cronje (S Africa) v New Zealand at Brisbane in 1993-94 (24y, 105d)

9. Ian Botham (England) v West Indies at Leeds in 1980 (24y, 186d)

10.Craig McMillan (N Zealand) v Sri Lanka at Sharjah in 2000-01 (24y, 209d)

[Edited on 13-4-2003 by ehsan]