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Old January 7, 2010, 07:36 AM
al Furqaan's Avatar
al Furqaan al Furqaan is offline
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Default Another watershed moment...

So we've just finished on 296-6 against India, winning the toss. We may well go onto to lose this match, but nonetheless, this marks a new watershed moment for BD cricket. Several things have happened which are not chance happenings which indicate we're moving in the right direction. More importantly, this bodes well for the world cup.

Now, one may argue, with slight justification that India took this match lightly, that their fielding was childish, that their bowling utterly toothless to the point of being granny-like. But the answer to these allegations lies in the following questions. Why would any sane or intelligent team take another lightly especially when the same mistake has cost them on a couple of occaisions - one very costly - in the recent past? When has India's bowling ever been anything but a mere formality? Have their bowlers ever consistently won them games?

But enough about them. This thread is about us.

Never before has Bangladesh crossed 260 in consecutive games against G8 sides. Never before have the batsman underperformed and still gotten past 250, let alone 296. We should have scored 320, plain and simple. No excuses. But this is satisfactory on the promises that Shakib al Hasan, Jamie Siddons, and their men have sworn to us the last several months.

It began in the Caribbean some months ago. Successfully chasing 275, with a mature Ashraful at the helm (though he ultimately threw his wicket) was the beginning. Sure the bowlers weren't great, but Roach was there pushing 150 kilometers and Sammy was there too. It continued in Zimbabwe with a couple of 300+ scores, and one of the more solid 150+ scores you'll see in fifty-over cricket from Tamim Iqbal.

Which brings us to the present series. Regardless of the results, scoring 260 and 296 against G8 sides is evidence of improvement. Gone are the days that Bangladesh cannot bat on flat wickets. It used to be said, very correctly, that it doesn't matter if the wicket is flat, we will score 230 either way. Well that day is through, and a new sun is rising.

We're not just about Ashraful anymore, Siddons claims. He's half right. Ashraful is still occupying the most important batting position at one down, and he's maturing slowly but surely. This isn't just based on the fact that he's scored over 100 runs in the last two games, but that his average has increased from 16 to over 24 in last five years.

But its not just about Ashraful, even if he continues to be our most potent, able, and frequent match-winner. We now have 4 batsman averaging 30 or more in Shakib, Raqibul Hasan, Mahmudullah, and Naeem Islam. Add to that Tamim who averages 29, and gone are the days when batsmen with laughable strike rates and low twenty-something averages were the bedrock of our lineup.

Waiting on the bench remain the likes of Aftab Ahmed, Shahriar Nafees, and Alok Kapali - the ex-ICL "rebels". All three have enjoyed periods of success, and the fact that a centurion against World Beaters Australia cannot find a place in the playing XI is yet another testement that Jamie Siddons has had the right idea all along. Most of us doubted him, about half of us called for his head, but two years was the time I asked for him, and two years was what he needed.

Under his guidance, Bangladesh have vastly improved their batting and their approach to batting. Today, Tamim, Ashraful, and Imrul Kayes all showed how easy batting should be on a batting pitch against a mediocre bowling unit. This never happened before. Ashraful started yet another batting collapse, but his shot was not that wretched. His patience was sublime compared to what we're used to coming from him, and he will continue to mature. Sohel bhai's prediction of 27-32 being the peak ages of a batsmen seem to be catching up to us after all. Tamim too will learn. He came so far from the 17 year old slasher to a technically sound batsman, capable of scoring big, but throwing it away. The development will continue.

The bowling front is definitely a cause of concern, but should Mashrafee Mortaza return from an injured knee, and Syed Rasel regain his form and fitness, we will have one of the best, if not the very best, new ball pairs in ODI cricket. Unlike, Javagal Srinath's comments regarding Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma, that is no bluff.

Our spin attack is already one of the best there is, lead by Shakib and Abdur Razzak, with a fastly improving Enamul Haque Jr waiting in the wings.

The future is most certainly bright, and although more work remains, for the first time, Bangladesh fans can start to see the beginnings of a team that will be a serious contender in two to three years time.
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