Bangladeshis vs. Brit. Unis: First day review
I am sure everyone has read the Cricinfo and BBC reports by now, so instead of spending too much time describing what took place today, I'll write more on our players who were on offer today.
Nafees Iqbal opened with Javed Omar on a very chilly afternoon and under overcast conditions. Although the sun went in and out of the clouds, for most of the first hour or so, it was rather dull. Given the circumstances, the two started well. The pitch was quite green as expected and on the slowish side. The bowling was pretty mediocre; none of the University bowlers were bowling at express pace and I didn't think that they got much lateral movement either. From both ends, the bowlers attempted early on a few short-pitched deliveries, which Javed put away easily.
Javed Omar compiled a typically stoic 111*
As far as Javed's batting was concerned, he played within himself and played well. The bottom-line, though, is that he was hardly tested. He dealt with the short balls on a sluggish pitch with ease and was also harsh on balls pitched up. As for good length deliveries, he was happy to come forward and defend. The bowlers hardly served up any surprises. Apart from a period in the early evening when he got stuck on 78 for about half an hour and seemed to forget how to score a run, he played, by and large, a fluent innings, Ashraful was going great guns at the other end so he was quite happy to hold his end up.
Verdict: Very good start and did exactly what was expected of him. However, he will have to do it on livelier pitches against much quicker bowlers than the ones he faced today.
Nafis got off to a very slow and steady start and again was hardly troubled in the first hour. He tried to play straight and also left a fair share of the balls. Omar did the bulk of the scoring in the opening partnership and even after the first hour or so, when the sun finally came out in full glory; Nafis did very little with the bowling, which I found disappointing. While it was important to start off solidly, once he got set in against a mediocre bowling attack, he should have looked to score some runs. After all, in a couple of weeks, he will be playing against a far superior bowling attack in a Test match and it doesn't bode well that he was so tentative with his stroke-play against this attack. By the time he got out, he had almost put himself under pressure to score some runs, as Javed Omar, a batsman not known for stroke play, was outscoring him 2 to 1.
Verdict: His rustiness from a lack of match practice showed out in the middle and he will desperately want to get a much more fluent knock under his belt before May 26th.
Not much to say about Shahriar Nafees as he only lasted five balls. He looked to be pretty compact in the four balls that he faced successfully, which I know isn't saying much. But he blocked his first couple of balls quite easily and left the next two without much fuss either. As all left-handers, he looks elegant out in the middle. However, he played an almost inexplicable shot to get out, driving at a ball that he shouldn't have had to think too long before leaving well alone. He got a bit of width, but the ball pitched on a good length and he tried to drive on the up before even opening his account. He looked very upset with himself when he passed me on his way back into the dressing room.
Verdict: Very poor start to the tour for the left-hander. He might get very few more opportunities to impress and he must make use of them, starting with the second innings of this match in which I feel that he should open if Bangladesh gets another chance to bat.
Habibul Bashar went out there and immediately scored two boundaries. For the first time in the match, it looked like a Test batsman was playing against the Universities bowlers. He played with complete ease and his second boundary, a cut through point and cover for four to a ball just slightly short and slightly wide, went over the ropes before the fielders even moved. He got a little adventurous after that, however, and played and missed cutting at a few outside the off-stump deliveries that didn't bounce as much as he expected. He went into tea shaking his head at the spectators in front of the pavilion and came out twenty minutes later looking to play a more compact game. He did stop cutting anything slightly wide but then got out in a strange fashion, inside-edging a ball to the keeper.
Verdict: Typical impulsive start by Bashar and he looked in good touch, middling the balls that he laid bat to. However, he didn't last long enough to get into his comfort zone. I wouldn't read too much into his failure with the bat today. He will raise his game against tougher opposition.
In his first innings on tour, Mohammad Ashraful showed his immense talent, but also exposed his disturbing lack of maturity. He edged a ball to the slips when he was on five, just after hitting a beautiful cover drive for four. The ball went at a comfortable height to the slip fielder but he grassed it. Ashraful followed with a cut for four off the next ball and then dominated for the next hour or so, bringing up his 50 with consummate ease. Omar, stuck on 78 for most of that time at the other end, watched with envy as his younger partner toyed with the bowlers. The Universities captain put two men on the fine leg/square leg boundary after Ash played a couple of airy hooks in that region for fours. Ashraful followed with another one of those and almost got caught by the fielder at deep square leg. The fielder seemed unaware that he was a good 5-7 yards inside the rope, but let the ball go over his head and bounce a couple of times before reaching the boundary rope, thus handing Ashraful his second life, at 56. Ashraful followed with another classy drive for four, as none of the fielders moved. An over later, he played the worst shot of his innings, a lazy uppish drive without any foot movement and was dropped at point. This was his third life, at 60. Thereafter, he again dominated till the end.
Verdict: This innings proved once again that that only person who can get Ashraful out is himself. His first life wasn't his fault, the ball probably bounced a little more than he expected and caught the shoulder of his bat, but that can easily happen to a batsman new to the crease. However, he has no one to blame for the other two chances he gave other than himself. If he can cut out on his stupidity, he will score a heap of runs on this tour. Believe me, he looks in great touch.
The team came back strongly after a couple of hiccups in the middle when three wickets fell for not too many runs. There is a new confidence about this Bangladeshi side, and I never felt, even when Bashar got out before the score reached 100, that the side was in trouble and might fold easily. Javed Omar went about his work as usual and Ashraful added some much-needed momentum. I will expect them to bat for another session and a half tomorrow and give the bowlers the other half of the day to have a go at the University batsmen, given that we get a full day's play.