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Old November 16, 2014, 06:22 PM
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Tiger Manc Tiger Manc is offline
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Default It's time for a 4 man pace attack!

Now that the Test series is complete and focus shifts to the ODI series. Now is a good time to have a look at what bowlers Bangladesh should pick and what strategies they should take keeping the World Cup in mind.

It is no secret that the pitches in both Australia and New Zealand tend to favour fast bowling. If we take a closer look at the World Cup venues Bangladesh will play in, the stats show that pace is favoured in all the pitches.

Venue: Manuka Oval (Australia)
Opposition: Afghanistan

Wickets Average
Pace: 27 36
Spin: 7 42

Venue: Brisbane Cricket Ground (Australia)
Opposition: Australia

Wickets Average
Pace: 224 28
Spin: 37 49

Venue: Melbourne Cricket Ground (Australia)
Opposition: Sri Lanka

Wickets Average
Pace: 208 31
Spin: 63 43

Venue: Saxton Oval (New Zealand)
Opposition: Scotland

Wickets Average
Pace: 5 46
Spin: 3 59

Venue: Adelaide Oval
Opposition: England

Wickets Average
Pace: 213 31
Spin: 54 47

Venue: Seddon Park (New Zealand)
Opposition: New Zealand

Wickets Average
Pace: 86 41
Spin: 20 58

N.B. All stats are taken from ODIs in those grounds in the last 10 years, except for Manuka Oval who have hosted 3 ODIs since 1992 and Saxton Oval who have hosted their only ODI to date in 2014.

Except for Manuka and Saxton oval where there isn’t a large enough sample size to deduce stats from, all the other 4 grounds have heavily favoured pace. In fact spin averages above 40 in every ground. The stats suggest that Bangladesh will have to play a number of pacers in these conditions and how well they adapt to the conditions will be key to their success. The performance of the Bangladesh bowlers over the last one and half years also favour picking a pace heavy attack. Sohag Gazi had a bright start to his ODI career taking 7 wickets in his first 2 ODIs, since then he has taken more than 1 wicket in an ODI only once. Since 5 May 2013 his average is 42.54, Razzak has been worse averaging 93.66. In contrast pace bowlers have taken the bulk of the wickets in that period with the top 3 wicket takers being Al Amin, Rubel and Mashrafe. Below is a detailed look at the performance of Bangladesh bowlers in that period.

Pace Bowlers

Name Wickets Average
Al Amin Hossain 16 23.56
Rubel Hossain 16 27.92
Mashrafe Mortaza 12 37.25
Taskin Ahmed 7 12.71

Spin Bowlers

Name Wickets Average
Shakib al Hasan 11 27.45
Mahmudullah 11 39.27
Sohag Gazi 11 42.54
Abdur Razzak 6 93.66
Arafat Sunny 6 34.50
Mominul Haque 5 25.40

Shakib and Mominul are the only spinners who have done well in ODIs in that period. If we look at the combined stats of the pacers and the combined stats of the frontline spinners, excluding Shakib, i.e. Gazi, Razzak and Sunny. The pace bowlers have taken more than twice as many wickets at a good average and a much better strike rate.

Wickets Average
Combined average of pace bowlers 51 26.57
Combined average of spin bowlers excluding Shakib 23 53.78

Wickets Strike Rate
Combined strike rates of pace bowlers 51 30.24
Combined strike rates of spin bowlers excluding Shakib 23 59.61

If recent form is anything to go by, Bangladesh should pick 4 fast bowlers for the World Cup, with Shakib being their sole frontline spinner. Their fast bowlers have been prolific. Rubel destoyed New Zealand with 6/26. Takin took an astonishing 5/28 on debut v India and Al Amin took 2 4-fors v West Indies.

In the last 5 years on away/neutral venues in England, Ireland, Scotland and New Zealand, 3 of the top 4 wicket takers on fast and bouncy pitches have been fast bowlers. Razzak has a poor record in those conditions too, taking 5 wickets at 59.40

Leading wicket takers in England/Ireland/Scotland/New Zealand in last 5 years:

Name Wickets Average
Shafiul Islam 15 29.40
Shakib al Hasan 14 26.21
Rubel Hossain 7 39.71
Mashrafe Mortaza 6 32.33
Abdur Razzak 5 59.40

The downside to picking a combination of Mashrafe-Rubel-Taskin-Al Amin for the World Cup is that Bangladesh would have 3 genuine tailenders with Mashrafe being the only one of the quartet capable of scoring runs with the bat. Considering Bangladesh’s poor run of form with the bat over the last year, the team management may not be willing to risk such a long tail. Abul Hasan who clobbered 35 off 17 balls in a recent DPL match maybe someone who can fill that void and with the ability to bowl at 140kph, he could be an option. The emergence of Taijul Islam and Jubair Hossain may tempt the think tank to pick them ahead of some of the other spinners, however that still doesn’t solve the issue of the long tail.

Bangladesh would have a balanced attack by picking 4 fast bowlers and a spinner, with a mixture of part time offies and slas should Mominul, Riyad and Nasir play. They could also be Plan B should the pacers have an off day. The strategy would be to look to take wickets and bowl the opposition out rather than playing spinners on surfaces that don’t favour them and allowing the game to meander along. Mashrafe has proved to be a good opening bowler over the years and Al Amin has excelled at the death in recent times. Hathurusingha has shown he can make bold decisions by picking a 19 year old, who hadn’t played a domestic match, in a Test match. Now it’s time for him to make another bold decision by picking 4 fast bowlers, something never done in Bangladesh history.
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