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When the Bangladesh batsman were bundled out for 150 runs, especially in the post-Whatmore era, the one million dollar question is "Where did the team spirit go?"

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Published: 31st October, 2003

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When the Bangladesh batsman were bundled out for 150 runs, especially in the post-Whatmore era, the one million dollar question is "Where did the team spirit go?"

With the injury to Mashrafee Bin Murtoza, all team spirit of the Bangladesh team, if there was any, had vanished into thin air. It will be interesting to see if there is any glimpse of such team spirit in Day Four's Bangladesh performance.

There was a time when scoring 180 odd runs was the goal that was achieved quite frequently by Bangladesh batsman. When coach Dave Whatmore took over, with the increasing number of good performances, everybody started to think that Bangladesh's performance curve is on the up.

But there was a big setback on that type of thought today when Bangladesh was bowled out for only 150 odd runs! I suppose a 200 run total was never on the cards even on the first innings of this test series against England, and we should not depend on our fragile lower order too much to get some consistent 50 or 60 odd runs from the tail enders in every other game.

This particular test match started on the wrong foot from the very beginning. It was thought to be a wicket for batting first, and yet the team decision of Bangladesh was to bowl first. Then after the poor total of 150 runs, we cannot term the decision to field first to be a bad one, can we? Especially after getting England all out for only 326 runs?

Chosing to bowl first meant not only to give the advantage to the opposition batsman, but also giving away the advantage of resting our very own pace bowler Mashrafee Bin Murtoza. Although he could have aggreviated such injury even if Bangladesh had bowled second, but there is a statistical proof that bowlers who play back to back test matches are more prone to injuries than those who don't. And Mashrafee has been playing for Bangladesh since the last Australia tour almost quite regularly. In this match, as well as in the last match, the burden of bowling was also on his shoulders more because of the team selection. Only one strike bowler Mashrafee, or rather, shall we say, a lone specialist pace bowler was chosen and there was no support for him.

The team selection worked up well for Bangladesh on the first match in Dhaka where the pitch was under-prepared, low bouncy and turning from Day One. But in Chittagong, the wicket is much better prepared and on better wickets, we needed a strike bowler like Mashrafee to bowl with some pace and it increased his risk for injury. The good news so far is that he will be out for about three weeks, but will be fit to be back to play for Bangladesh on Bangladesh's next tour of Zimbabwe in February-March. Now the question is that whether we could have handled him more carefully.

When Bangladesh was bowled out, it meant that the England lead was nearly 200 runs and with that thought in mind, they had batted positively and confidently. As a result, our bowlers were smashed all around the ground for fours and sixes with a run rate of around 3.5 runs per over most of the day. The flourish of Rikki Clarke and Chris Read along with Nasser Hussain in the end had managed to increase that run rate to over 4 an over.

At such a time, only one thing was popping up in our minds, "if the batsman don't support the bowlers, then why should the bowlers start to support the batsman?"

 

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