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  #1  
Old January 21, 2010, 06:09 AM
billah billah is offline
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Default The three in the middle....

The middle three


Three blind mice
See how they run.....
Ever heard that one?

Rokibul did not give his wicket away in either innings. I start this commentary with this - and there is a reason for it. I will tell you why later on.

Our positives from this test

We have many positives actually to take away from this match.

We gave a credible fight over five days. The weather related blackout periods could have gone either way. First day's lost time helped India preserve wickets. On the second day, I believe the lack of light played a part in our loss of three quick wickets.

Two of our bowlers got 5-for in the first innings; a first for us. This helped us booking India to their lowest first innings total against us. Our 3 pacers have demonstrated stamina, speed, line, length, accuracy and a lot of heart.
Shahadat came back to the team full steam. His speed is back and his bouncers are far more accurate than they have ever been in the past.

Mushfiq got a deserved hundred which was also the fastest Bangladeshi Test hundred. We have set several partnership records against India. In the first innings, after the first few quick wickets, Shakib's captaincy became even more proactive. End result, we did not have to endure a fifty by the 10th or 11th Indian batsman.

Regardless of bowling against the most formidable Test batting lineup in the world, we almost bowled them out twice. It looked inevitable, if it wasn't for the declaration by the Indian captain. Our overall fitness, fielding looked good. The few catches dropped were the difficult ones. Side by side, the Indian fielding looked ordinary, casual, lesurely and dotted with embarrassing lollipops dropped by their top fielders.

Areas needing improvement

Mushfiq scored the higest runs for the Test match, among both teams. He also occupied the middle the highest number of minutes among both teams, despite scoring the fastest Bangladeshi Test hundred. Mushfiq-Mahmudullah 108 was the highest partnership of the match. These stats are obviously, no coincidence at all.

Shariar Nafis, Ashraful, Rokibul & Shakibs combined score for both innings - 118. India's 2nd to 6th batsmen scored 262, I am not counting nighwatchman Misra's freak 50. Rahul Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman & Yuvraj put us in a deficit of 144 runs. At the end we lose by 113.

The meaty part of our batting line up produced too few runs. This is easy to see. We've all lived through the last few days (and nights) of frustration over this. We have gotten sick to our stomach from hearing the same commentary about sticking it out, about our shot selection, temperament etc from the commentators.

The Middle Order Debacle

Rokibul put a price on his wicket. He stayed long in the middle and got out to practically unplayable deliveries. Regardless of poor scores, he is cut for Tests. It's clear to see that he needs to be in the Test squad for us. Let's also leave Imrul out of this. He is still in the forming process. Yes, his second innings out was amaturish, but Imrul himself is just beginning to shape out to be a future professional.

Now, I think if anything that would have given us a draw or an unlikely win, it woudl have had to come from the other three in the middle order: Ash, Sakib & Shahriar Nafis. This has to be our focus zone before the next Test.

Something I would like to point out here. These three batsmen played nervy jittery innings - all the six times they were out there in the middle. None allowed themselves enough time to settle down where they would begin enjoying their own batting. The signs of pressure were always there. They were never comfortable. They never quite adjusted themselves to the situation and got out quickly. Mahmudullah, on the other hand showed us how to adjust to difficult conditions far better during his gem of an innings of 69.

The Innate Cricketer in Them

Our three musketeers in the middle order were trying too hard. These guys were trying to act like Test batsmen than they really are. So far we've heard sound bytes such as "positive cricket" & "natural game" from the team a number of times. The "flow" of a natural game was completely missing in Shahriar Nafis, Ash and Shakib. These players were forced to adjust their attitude. They did not look comfortable with the situation for a single moment. They were not shooting like three musketeers at all. More like - dare I say?

Here's another example to prove my point: look at Mushfiq's terrific hundred. He scores the second half of this century in free form batting. He was not playing rash shot, wasn't sloggin, not going after every ball. He no longer had the pressure of staying there on him. His natural form was flowing and so were the runs - all from solid, technically sound cricketing shot. No improvisation.

We need to take a hard look at the character of our middle order. Are these our Collingwoods? Are these guys made for sticking it out there for a 120-ball-15 like Test scores? Are they made of such material? Do they ever shine playing a sedate innings? Did they ever?

Well, the whole of cricketing world knows that the answer is "no" for Ashraful. Shakib and Shahriar Nafis played there best innings in a flowing form and not by hanging around with the tenacity of a limpet. They did not score big by just hanging around. They are not the Rahul Dravids of our cricket. We will need to wait for another generation for our own Tendulkars.

I say, let these guys play their strength, let them play their cricket. By doing so, we might get more than 118 from our middle order. Play positive, have fun and don't get stifled.

One last icing on the cake

Our tail can bat if they put their minds to it. Shahadat should definitely get more time at the nets with the willow. I was also impressed with the way Rubel handled difficult deliveries at the fag end of the second innings. Mushfiq's century and our 300-run mark became a reality with their help. And oh, yes - this new kid Shafiul can hit sixes. His blasting should help us add 20 odd runs in quick time when needed. Every little bit helps.

I wish the best of luck to our team for the upcoming second Test match against India.
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  #2  
Old January 21, 2010, 07:07 AM
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yaseer yaseer is offline
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Most importantly we need to learn to capitalize when the opposition is in under pressure. We restricted India to 243 in the 1st innings but could not capitalize on this. If we cannot capitalize on this opportunities then we have to be satisfied with "fight" only. In past, we also have played these sort of "fighting" test matches. Now time has come to make this "fight" to a result in our favor. To do this, we cannot let go the initiative that we did in the 1st innings. A century from our batsmen in the 1st innings would have took the match away from Indians. We need to learn to play when it matters most.

Still it is a good performance against the no#1 ranked team. But still, we let go a very good opportunity in the first innings. We have to learn to capitalize on every opportunities as we do not get much in test level.
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  #3  
Old January 21, 2010, 07:34 AM
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beshideshi beshideshi is offline
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I'l have to say Billah bhai, geat analysis. I have never actually looked at our middle order batsmen from your POV.
But is test cricket a place for boom boom innings? Or is it a place for Raqib-like players? We must decide now. Shakib/Ash today reminded me of a hyena in a cage, we all know about the Hyena's ferocious nature, and every now and then you see the glimpse of it's ferociousness trying to break free from the cage and then it goes back to being the impatient, unnatural Hyena in the cage. i say let it free, or tie it up completely.

Also, Mahmudullah did play well in the 1st innings, but he also played too many shots, which was his natural game. So there is no point arguing that Mahmudullah played a patient test knock. He played a fine natural knock. [look at his SR]
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  #4  
Old January 21, 2010, 07:44 AM
zainab zainab is offline
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It was good to see that one batsman scored a century, but India scored 2 centuries by their best batsmen, also a 100 run partnesrship between Mushy and Riyad. I remember the test matches in 2007, rain effected a draw in one test, both matches BD was following on, India has steadily climbed to NO1 ranking in 2 yrs, and BD is still No9. Here, India did not score a mammoth total, they batted twice and BD bowled them out for their lowest total against them.,
It would have been much better if the top 5 batsmen could have scored at least 175 runs, instead of leaving it to the last 5 who did wonderfully well here in the second innings.
Still, BD batsmen are still suffering from nerves and BCB should employ a team psychologist for them to teach them how to handle pressure.
I am pleased that they did not have a humiliating defeat against the No1 team in the world.
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  #5  
Old January 21, 2010, 07:47 AM
magic boy magic boy is offline
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good post
@ Billah bhai
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  #6  
Old January 21, 2010, 09:40 AM
BD-Shardul BD-Shardul is offline
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Great analysis Billah bhai.
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  #7  
Old January 21, 2010, 10:34 AM
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Disagree with Roquibul. There is no such thing as an "unplayable ball" in cricket. There are only balls that are unplayable from a batsman's position. If you get into the right position on time, you can play/defend/leave any balls without getting out. Roquibul the rock, due to his rock heavy feet (is that where the name came from?) failed to read the ball and position himself properly. That is how he is getting out.

In the beginning, when no data is available to analyze the strengths and flaws of a batsman, they do well. But once enough data is compiled, that is not the case anymore. This is the #1 reason so many debutant do well in their first year or so and then just fails to deliver. Looks like Roquibul is turning out to be one of them.

I'm not saying he is done for ever, but he needs to take a break and go back to the text book and do some real good homework before coming back may be after england tour.
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  #8  
Old January 21, 2010, 10:52 AM
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I would love to see this in the front page.
Quote:
Originally Posted by billah
...

We need to take a hard look at the character of our middle order. Are these our Collingwoods? Are these guys made for sticking it out there for a 120-ball-15 like Test scores? Are they made of such material? Do they ever shine playing a sedate innings? Did they ever?


Well, the whole of cricketing world knows that the answer is "no" for Ashraful. Shakib and Shahriar Nafis played there best innings in a flowing form and not by hanging around with the tenacity of a limpet. They did not score big by just hanging around. They are not the Rahul Dravids of our cricket. We will need to wait for another generation for our own Tendulkars.....
A grafter can turn himself in to a stroke maker. We will see this from Rakibul inshallah.

Very difficult the other way around. Especially the schedule is full of shorter version of cricket. I also think through hard work one can accomplish this as well but he needs to be adaptive and with age he would become a thinking cricketer. For Shakib, I think this county stinct is very important in learning the ways in staying in the wicket.

Dravid, Laxman are products of a stable domestic cricket. We, on the other hand, are making sure our boys play only 5 first class matches in a year. Pity.
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  #9  
Old January 21, 2010, 10:55 AM
PoorFan PoorFan is offline
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What a great analysis, yet people got busy posting in useless threads like '20 wicket' and 'School Boy'. Bunch of kids are crying out there for nothing.

Quote:
I say, let these guys play their strength, let them play their cricket. By doing so, we might get more than 118 from our middle order. Play positive, have fun and don't get stifled.
Sounds good for instant, but what if that 'Let-play-their-cricket' disease spreads deep down to 12th 15th man? It wont even take months to lose what we finally acheved in Tamim, Rakib, Riyad, Muhsi, Sakib, Nayeem, Ash [to some extent] etc., after working hard for couple of years. Will it work if coach decide A, B, C should play natural game, and rest must do the labor work? We could be back to square in no time I guess.

Its a good policy for a good matured team like India or Srilanka etc, not good for a team like us, those who have lack in basic technique, shot selection, unable to build partnership, mentally weak etc. First we have to learn those basics, which will lead to be consistent, and once will get matured. And then perhaps such policy will help the team to become more competitive, by then players will be able to adopt and execute the way as situation demand.

Last edited by PoorFan; January 21, 2010 at 11:03 AM..
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  #10  
Old January 21, 2010, 11:21 AM
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AsifTheManRahman AsifTheManRahman is offline
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I get the feeling Raqibul just isn't up to par. He misses a lot of scoring opportunities and by being overly defensive, sometimes gets himself into a tangle that he can't get out of. That's what happened with his dismissal today - too tentative.

Yes it's a Test match and you should look to stay out there, but you shouldn't have to go out of your way to do it - if it doesn't come naturally (like Mushfiq) then either you're not meant to play Test cricket or you should work on your weaknesses. I'm not advocating dropping him, just saying that he's deficient.
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Old January 21, 2010, 11:32 AM
DJ Sahastra DJ Sahastra is offline
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I thought Ash, Sakib and SN were playing to score runs rather than hang around. What did i miss?
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  #12  
Old January 21, 2010, 04:18 PM
billah billah is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DJ Sahastra
I thought Ash, Sakib and SN were playing to score runs rather than hang around. What did i miss?
DJ, what I wanted to point out in my analysis is this:

Do we want SN, Ash, Sakib & Rock to play like Yuvi, Laxman, Tendu & Dravid? If we do, we are in for a disappointment. Cases in point:

Ash's 158 against India - swashbuckling century
SN's 145 against Australia - a belter of an innings against the best pace attack in the world
Sakib's 108 against Pakistan - Another blaster against the turn of play

If JS wants a middle order like Yuvi, Laxman, Tendu & Dravid - well, he better start a nationwide hunt now. He won't find them in Ash, SN, Sakib & Rock. They are not made of that stuff. At least one of them - Ash, has already proven it over his career.
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  #13  
Old January 21, 2010, 04:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tokai
Disagree with Roquibul. There is no such thing as an "unplayable ball" in cricket. There are only balls that are unplayable from a batsman's position. If you get into the right position on time, you can play/defend/leave any balls without getting out. Roquibul the rock, due to his rock heavy feet (is that where the name came from?) failed to read the ball and position himself properly. That is how he is getting out.

In the beginning, when no data is available to analyze the strengths and flaws of a batsman, they do well. But once enough data is compiled, that is not the case anymore. This is the #1 reason so many debutant do well in their first year or so and then just fails to deliver. Looks like Roquibul is turning out to be one of them.

I'm not saying he is done for ever, but he needs to take a break and go back to the text book and do some real good homework before coming back may be after england tour.
Have to agree with you there. Since the WI series, Raqibul seems to have been found out against short balls. He is improving, no doubt, but prolly not fast enough. I am afraid a world of misery awaiting for him in New Zealand.

I won't mind to see him back for home series against England though.
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Old January 21, 2010, 05:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AsifTheManRahman
I get the feeling Raqibul just isn't up to par. He misses a lot of scoring opportunities and by being overly defensive, sometimes gets himself into a tangle that he can't get out of. That's what happened with his dismissal today - too tentative.

Yes it's a Test match and you should look to stay out there, but you shouldn't have to go out of your way to do it - if it doesn't come naturally (like Mushfiq) then either you're not meant to play Test cricket or you should work on your weaknesses. I'm not advocating dropping him, just saying that he's deficient.
rock looks like a stroke-less wonder. at the end of the day you need runs on the board.
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Old January 21, 2010, 07:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eshen
Have to agree with you there. Since the WI series, Raqibul seems to have been found out against short balls. He is improving, no doubt, but prolly not fast enough. I am afraid a world of misery awaiting for him in New Zealand.

I won't mind to see him back for home series against England though.
Yup.

He is specifically inept against rising deliveries. And, it makes sense. He has a first-class triple hundred to his name. Scored 313, playing 600+ deliveries. He stays there out in the middle. So he gets a lot of practice in low bounce pitches in Bangladesh. This, probably is a curse in disguise. Playing in RSA, NZ or Aussie conditions will be very tough on him, unless he learns to play in bouncy conditions real fast.

What pissed me off yesterday was, he went out there without arm guard ! WTF ! Specially when Ishant, Zaheer and Srisanth were just banging away ! He took arm protection only after being hit on the elbow. Even Tamim went in will full body protection. I don't know what Rokibul was thinking there.
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Old January 21, 2010, 08:10 PM
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To be fair to Rock, all of our batsmen looks suspect against back of the good length deliveries (not necessarily against bouncers banged short. Our batsmen know how to duck or to pull/hook on occasions). But for short batsmen like Rock and Ash it becomes even more problematic if they can't judge the length quickly.

This is another reason I want to see Mushfiq left at #6 or later in the Test team, he will prolly have the same problem if promoted.
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  #17  
Old January 23, 2010, 08:27 AM
zainab zainab is offline
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The West Indies series was not high scoring matches. IMO, the test matches looked like each team was playing ODIs. This is the real test against the Indians who can hold their nerves and stay at the wicket, but BD batsmen still have to learn patience and application which seems lacking. They have to change from ODI to test mode and know that they have to bat for a minimum of 100 overs per innings. If they can make nearly 300 runs in an ODI against India, whu cant they score 400 runs in a test match?
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