"A skilled commander seeks victory from the situation and does not demand it of his subordinates."
- Sun Tzu
Inzy and Ponting may vary greatly in the ways they shepherd their troops, but as of April the 13th they share the sin of playing villains to a script millions of cricket followers have been weaving for over 48 hours. On both occasions, it took a heroic effort from the two captains to save the blushes for their respective teams. The brilliance and determination of Punter's dogged knock essayed not only a heartbreak for most of us, but also highlighted our frailty in rising to the occasion - a quality that distinguishes the good from the great. Compared to other typical test losses, Bangladesh enjoyed a relatively even
Soon roar of the tigers will be heard all around the world Â© AFP
proportion of contributions throughout this test; they, however, faltered to leaders who chose to take matters in their own hands and decisively delivered. Although the Aussies deserve all the praises for holding their nerves and justifying the $500,000 check, the purpose of this article is not to embellish their victory, but to analyze the individual and collective performances of the Bangladesh team and identify the elusive piece of a heartbreaking puzzle.
The Eleven Men:
01. Javed Omar:
JO has been providing the team with decent opening partnerships lately. He is not in a bad form and that is always good news. He still needs to overcome the blunder blues of chasing every 'cut'-able delivery and prodding tentatively to off cutters.
02. Shahriar Nafees:
This has easily been the best test match in this youngster's career. His 1st Inn. ton will be memorable and one can only hope it's the start of many. That being said, he needs to flash back at his 2nd inn. dismissal and learn from that mistake. No time is a good time to relax, and overconfidence can be fatal when you attempt to play a half-cock stroll to a Brett lee yorker.
03. Habibul Bashar:
Expectations have been high from the best batter and captain of the team. While his epic partnership with S Nafees propelled us to a commanding position, his irresponsible dismissal in the 2nd Inn. dug us an equally deep hole. To his credit, he has realized and publicly acknowledged his mistake. He also had the misfortune of witnessing what a true captain's knock is and in order for Bangladesh to win test matches in future, he must elevate his game to an inspiring level and lead by example.
04. Rajin Saleh:
The former Vice Captain racked up exactly 100 runs in two innings. His dismissal in the 2nd Inn. was irresponsible, but he was equally unfortunate in the 1st Inn. for getting out off a No-Ball ignored by the umpires. He has reasons to feel confident going into the 2nd test and one expects him to add a little urgency to his batting in stead of being overtly defensive. He also needs to rotate the strike more often and not let the fielding side bog him down causing unnecessary pressure on his partner.
05. Mohammad Ashraful:
Ashraful has been disappointing in this test match. Lately he has been lending credence to the BanglaCricket humorists who have labeled him "The Eid" (for performing twice a year only). He has a chance of reversing it all in the two innings that await him in a week from now. While his constant chirps and friendly banter in the silly point position are entertaining, the fans would rather have his willow replicate that enthusiasm.
06. Aftab Ahmed:
This isn't the same fluent Aftab from the Kenya series. He had starts on both occasions, but failed to capitalize. The team benefits from his youthful exuberance and fine ground fielding, but he will be required to act more responsibly with the bat and resist the temptations to hit out against wrist spin.
07. Khaled Mashud:
Not quite the Pilot we are used to. His missed run out has proven costly and we expect better from the Mr. Dependable of Bangladesh Cricket.
08. Mohammad Rafique:
The Keraniganj native is easily Bangladesh's MoM. His 9 wickets don't do enough justice to his character and fighting spirit that kept Bangladesh in the game until the penultimate session. This workhorse isn't getting any younger and it'll be disappointing to see him retire without savoring Bangladesh's first test victory against an elite cricketing nation.
09. Mashrafe Mortaza:
Masree drew first blood for us in the 1st Inn. when he scalped his bunny Hayden. He bowled his heart out in the 2nd Inn. but quite possibly dropped a historic victory when he dropped Ponting. I'm sure this will haunt him in his dreams for the weeks to come, but for now he needs to go back to the drawing board with the coaches and devise a dual-purpose plan of containing and attacking the batsmen who are already set. A fellow BC member has been suggesting adoption of "around the wicket" strategy against the likes of Gilchrist that evidently paid off in the 2005 Ashes series. It is unclear whether this crossed the minds of the Bangladesh think-tank, but it deserves a serious consideration seeing how ridiculously helpless Gilly can make the bowlers look almost at will. This tactic, coupled with Shahadat bowling from a different angle, will make life less easier for the batsmen.
10. Shahadat Hossain:
This youngster didn't bowl as bad as his figures suggest. However, he erred too frequently in his line and length which negated the pressure he previously exerted on the batsmen. This spiral evidently had a demoralizing effect on him and the lack of consistency in his length cost him too many boundaries. On a lighter note, his celebration of Ponting's dismissal graced the newspaper headlines worldwide.
11. Enamul Haq:
Another bowler who bowled better than his figures suggest. He tried his level best and revealed the weakness of Aussie batsmen against quality left arm spin - considered a dying art these days.
Leadership comes in different forms and endeavors. While it is a good sign to see Bashar take responsibility for his careless running that eventually triggered a mini-collapse, other members of the team (especially the batsmen) didn't come forward to compensate for the failures of their team mate. Not often have we seen the Bangladeshi batting line up enjoying fairly uniform contributions from all the top order batsmen in one inning. This did happen in the first inning, but unfortunately took a U-turn in the 2nd part. The batsmen folded under pressure and overconfidence was apparent.
When compared to the Aussies, at least one of their players rose above the rest and made amends for the failure of his fallen peers.
At first it was Gilchrist, and then very fittingly, Ponting. Given that the Bangladesh cricket administration already follows Cricket Australia as a role model, it's high time our batsmen started doing the same. A respectable 2nd Inning would have ensured at least a draw and seeing how the management emphasized on surviving 5 sessions in the 1st inning, it was surprising they didn't try a Safety-First approach for the 2nd inning. By the way, whatever happened to the tail that used to wag?
Negatives aside, this test hasn't been as bad as the last paragraph alleges. The greatest achievement has been making a point to the cricketing world about our steady learning curve and the potential of youngsters like Nafees and Enamul - something Ponting has already testified to twice within a week. This will also invariably raise the fan and critic expectations. Let us not forget that the Aussies were a relatively tired bunch before the start of the first test. Fatigue and surprise were two factors they didn't consider at first. Bangladesh will no longer hold these two trumps in 2nd test. There is a distinct possibility that the Aussies will regain their crushing form and bring us back down to earth. Hence, the expectations need to be adjusted accordingly. But that's not to discredit the positives we gained from this test.
Bangladesh will be preparing for the 2nd test as a group better aware of their capabilities and will be charging to reach that extra level of excellence that seems to make all the difference. It is clear that alongside a concerted team effort, some individuals ought to step up and perform extraordinarily to make the difference between a winnable heartbreak and the unthinkable. So, will the real tiger please stand up?