Bangladeshis vs. Brit. Unis: Second day review
My report for the day unfortunately will lack any coverage of one of the most
dramatic events of the day; Ashraful's hundred and his dismissal. I
had arrived at the ground today at about a quarter past eleven, ruing the fact
that I had missed a quarter of an hour's play, only to find that the game had
been started early to make up for lost time.
Again the sun played games in the morning, showing itself in glimpses and the
first half of the morning session was more cloudy than sunny. However, the bowlers
did not do very much other than to bowl a more disciplined line than they did
for most of yesterday and our two batsmen, Omar and Rajin played very defensively.
It was boring cricket to say the least for the first hour of the morning (or
atleast the first hour I watched).
Javed Omar started slowly but continued from where he left off the night before
once he got his eye in again. It was very much a similar story to yesterday
with him being harsh on balls pitched up and comfortably defending anything
on the stumps. He did not look troubled at all in the morning, but played a
lazy shot to the left-armer to get out in the early afternoon. Pehaps one piece
of roast too many in his lunch.
Rajin Saleh's batting was similar to Nafees Iqbal's. He looked rusty and was
very tentative with his shots. He nudged a couple of singles but didnot really
look all that comfortable. I was hoping at the time that I would get an opportunity
to write that he started off poorly but played himself back into some sort of
form, but he played a bad shot to get out, hitting a ball outside off-stump
straight to the hands of the point fielder. It was too adventurous a shot for
someone who was not middling much at all and he should have had the sense to
stick around and get some decent batting practice out there. The opposition
will only get tougher from here on and this was his chance to spend a bit of
time out in the middle.
Khaled Mashud batted as he usually does, with a lot of purpose. He came out
and was immediately looking for the gaps so that he could run some singles and
his arrival to the crease jump-started the Bangladesh innings after a very pain-staking
partnership by Omar and Rajin. Mashud played reasonably well and will only get
better the more balls he faces in England. He keeps things simple, which is
rare among Bangladeshi batsmen and a useful quality for a batsman trying to
come to terms with English conditions. He was out playing a pull shot and having
the catch plucked up a few inches off the ground by the square leg fielder.
It really was not a bad shot - he just did not get on top of the ball enough
to get it down before it reached the fielder - rather a case of falling to a
fantastic bit of fielding.
Mohammed Rafique batted as he always does, having a go at anything that took
his fancy. He hit a couple of decent blows and then got caught by mid off while
trying to loft one down the ground. Not much to say here, we know Rafique and
what he is all about.
The revelation of the day, batting wise, was Mashrafee Mortaza. His batting
looked superb and without trying to sound overly dramatic, he actually looked
better as a batsman than some of our top order batsmen. He middled almost everything
and played a couple of cover drives for four that would have made any of our
top order batsmen proud. He played the seamers with ease both sides of the
wicket and really could have fooled the English spectators into thinking that
he is a top-order batsman. Perhaps his maiden FC century has boosted his confidence.
He got out trying to play a lofted drive off the left arm spinner when perhaps
forcing the pace was the instruction from the dressing room. Mashrafee's technique
is good and he obviously has an quick eye. If he continues working on his batting,
he can become a genuine all-rounder for Bangladesh.
Tapash Baisya played doggedly as he always does. Shahadat Hossain Rajib, on
the evidence of today, is very much a number eleven, out by playing on, off
the pads, to the left-arm spinner.
Overall, the batting was good without being dominant, apart from the periods
when Ashraful and later Mashrafe to a lesser extent were unleashing some top-notch
shots. The total that Bangladesh made was respectable, and I am reasonably happy
with it given that it is their first match of the tour and a couple of the guys
seriously looked out of touch. The major disappointments were Shahriar Nafees
and Rajin, as both gave their wickets away.
I would like to mention a few technical observations about the BD batting.
Firstly, I noticed that most of our players have a slightly open stance, even
when facing right arm over the wicket bowlers. I do not really understand why
this is and they would be better off in my opinion to get more side-on to the
right arm bowlers in swinging conditions. In any case, a lot of our batsmen
also do not bring the bats down straight, rather, with the slightly open stance,
the bat comes down from pointing towards gully and this in my view increases
the chance of getting edges to the slips. A bowler like Hoggard will surely
Secondly, and this might sound trivial to some, our batsmen seem to play with
sub-standard bats. Most of the time, there was a loud ugly thud that echoed
around the ground when the ball hit the middle of the bat, and when the ball
was not middled, it sounded like the bat is breaking in half. However, when
the Universities side came out to bat, there was plenty of the crisp clucking
sound that you expect when the ball hits the middle of the bat. Anyway, just
an observation. Picking up a few Gray-Nicholls sponsorships along with the couple
of county contracts that we are hoping for would not hurt.
Our bowlers came out to bowl in the mid-afternoon with the sun shining brightly
and no clouds overhead. The pitch and outfield had also dried out under the
pretty harsh afternoon sun. I should say at the outset that their bowlers definitely
got the better of the conditions.
Mashrafe started quite casually and sent down some pretty harmless overs during
which he ambled up to the crease and bowled without putting his back into it
much at all. In his first three or four overs, he did not bowl much quicker
than the Universities bowlers had, and this was slightly disappointing as I
had been waiting to watch him bowl upfront for a long time. However, he probably
did not want to push himself too hard, which given his injury history, is understandable.
Tapash at the other end struggled with both his run-up and his line. He was
bowling quicker than Mashrafe at this point but was no-balled quite a few times
and strayed on to the leg-side often, getting hit for four on each occasion.
He took his first wicket with the only ball in his first spell that he got right.
The ball pitched on off on a good length and moved away just a shade to take
the edge to Ashraful at second slip. He looked jubilant after he got the wicket
but his bowling deteriorated and he was quickly taken off the attack.
Enter Rajib, the man I had been waiting to see more than anyone else in this
match. I have to say, he did not disappoint. He is definitely very quick, probably
a tad quicker than Mashrafe. But more impressively, he is tall and uses his
height well. He comes off a very long and straight run-up and bowls with a high
arm action. He hit a good line almost from the get go today and bowled a pretty
quick and fiery first spell. The great thing about it was that watching Rajib
steam in seemed to ignite the fire in Mashrafe at the other end. As soon as
he had Rajib at the other end bowling quick and aggressively, Mashrafe too sent
down some very quick overs; creating all sorts of problems for the Universities
batsmen. This was by far the best passage of play for Bangladesh while they
bowled with both bowlers bowling with speed and accuracy. It was only right
therefore that both got wickets during this spell, both batsmen edging to the
Tapash bowled much better in his second spell when he was brought back from
the other end. His no-balls continued almost throughout the day but his line
and length were good and he deserved his second wicket, trapping the batsman
plumb in front. However, it was quite clear from watching him against the Universities
batsmen today that Tapash will have to be very disciplined in his line and length.
He neither has the pace nor the height to get away with loose deliveries, and
the batsmen took full advantage everytime he got it wrong.
Rafique took a wicket in his first over when the batsman padded up to a straight
ball and was correctly judged LBW. However, he looked totally harmless thereafter.
The batsmen blocked him away for most of the evening and scored some runs as
well down the leg-side everytime he strayed. Strangely, he started off bowling
from over the wicket (round the wicket for him) and did that all evening. I
thought he should have bowled a couple of overs from his more usual round the
wicket position. But I suppose with the wicket taking very little spin, he felt
safer bowling from over. The 6th wicket partnership really seemed to have gotten
a measure of Rafique and played him quite easily, which is a little scary.
Mashrafee's second spell was very much like the way he started his first, completely
lacking in purpose. Again he ambled up and bowled and it did look like he was
more interested in trying to make his body go through the motions rather than
getting the batsmen out. I think he might have even had instructions not to
go all out, so I will not make much out of his bowling today. The three or four
overs in the middle when he bowled in tandem with Rajib proved what he is capable
Rajib's second spell was similar to his first in the sense that he really put
in a lot of effort and bowled with considerable pace. He also obtained some
impressive bounce off the otherwise harmless wicket. He did not appear to move
the ball much, but maintained a good line and length. He had a good shout for
LBW which the umpire turned down, but he definitely hurried the batsmen on several occasions.
The part-timer bowlers, Rajin and Ash, were completely ineffective.
The bowling overall was decent. Rajib was the most impressive because he put
in the most effort, obviously trying his best to get a place in the team for
the first Test. I wa s impressed with his attitude, as he kept running in and
banging the ball in, even late into his second spell when the wicket had completely
dried out and the two batsmen were batting quite well. He did his chances no
harm. Mashrafee is evidently easing himself into the tour and even without putting
in the effort, did not bowl too badly. Rafique bowled decently on a pitch that
did not offer him anything. Tapash was the weakest link and he will have to
bowl more consistently against better opposition.
The fielding was very good. The slips took all the catches and the ground fielding
was generally good. A couple of balls went through now and then, but that is
expected in the first game on tour and when the fielders are not about to give
their lives to stop the boundaries.
A good day's play I would say. It would have been perfect had we got another
wicket before the close of play. Hopefully, Mashrafe and Rajib will start off
the procedings tomorrow and get a few early breakthroughs so that we can get
this side out for about 250 before settling in for another long bat, perhaps
with Shahriar Nafis opening instead of Javed.