A beaming smile that would warm the heart of any. An entire team standing in
the rain waiting to embrace the hero of the moment while the opponents are plain
embarrassed. A warm hug between captain and his once-momentarily-estranged star
bowler. A coach - who's seen it all, or so it would seem - moved to wipe away
a tear from his eyes. A nation of fans basking in a rare moment of sporting
exhilaration and, dare we say, domination?
Md. Rafique became the 13th player to score a test century from the number
9 position (South Africa's Shaun Pollock has 2), and in the process, perhaps
brought Bangladesh one step closer to that elusive 1st test win. I will attempt
to now jot down my observations for the rain abbreviated 2nd day.
- We are flat track bullies Honestly, if one looks at Bangladesh's best scores,
they have come on the slower tracks such as Peshawar or BNS. While this is
a good start, it still means that on the bouncier tracks such as upcoming
Sabena, we will continue to have issues.
- A lot more lofted shots were featured. As if to respond to my bleatings,
the Bangladesh batsmen took on the bowlers today and drove with some power.
Even tiny Ashraful had a lovely on-drive. Speaking of Ashraful, I was hanging
out last evening with a younger cousin who apparently used to play with Ash
just before he got selected for the Jr. Nats. While my cousin fondly reminisced
about a beamer which he had used to almost knock Ashraful out, he also mentioned
that Ashraful's small stature belies his physical strengths. Ash is becoming
quite the dependable middle to late order batsmen. I seem to recall at least
2 decent scores in Pakistan, a 90 something in Zim, and today's 84. When the
boy (he is still one) gets his shot selection finally right - he will be a
world-class batsmen. No doubt about that. Oh another thing - he needs to cut
down on his shuffling across the stump. If I'm Dav or Owen M., I would focus
- Bangladesh should not take this innings to head. Rafique's innings featured
many a ball in the air that just went over or past the fielder or through
the slip cordon. At least 4 clear chances were dropped, while 3-4 half-chances
went begging over the two days. There was one run out that was not given,
a couple of LBW appeals that could have, on another day, easily gone the other
way. On top of that, West Indian misfields prevented a few other potential
runouts from developing. Why am I carping on what was arguably Bangladesh's
best batting display? Well aside from the fact I think our debut test innings
was better, my point is that we are still far removed from scoring 400 odd
against a disciplined NZ or English team on a green top. Shabash boys, but
keep on working hard.
- The running between the wickets in the top order (up to Rajin) is quite
good - world class even. Lower order running between the wickets, while probably
better than Windies's could still be better, there were number of yes/no/maybes
and a few times one batsmen would be 1/4 down the pitch while the other had
not budged. Having said that, I don't think there were too many opportunities
for converting singles or doubles or triples which weren't taken up. So again,
- The special coaching being given to our lower order Batsmen is paying off.
All of them at least can play the front foot and back foot defense. There
were a few inside edges & Surrey/Chinese cuts by Rafique, Tapash &
Tareq, but in general they didn't look like complete bunnies. Then again,
after his century, Md. Rafique might have some objection to being termed a
- Innings restarts continue to be an issue. Ash was almost out to the first
ball after tea I think. I don't know how you fix that except to play more
first class matches.
- Rafique's century will probably be the only test century he will ever score.
I know some would love to see him promoted up the order and also open in the
ODIs but a technique of backing away from pace bowlers and lofting them over
the infield is not going to get you runs on a consistent basis unless your
name is Viru Shewag. Also, who'd he come before? Their 1st innings failures
not-withstanding, Pilot, Dickens & Babu (aka Khaled Mashud, Faisal Hosseins
& Mushfique) are just better batsmen. There has been only 13 centuries
from that position in test cricket history - there's a reason for that.
- Again, as if in response to my commentary, the pacers definitely upped
the pace, especially Tino Best. He was fired up and bowled in the mid to high
80s consistently with a few topping 90s. Same with Fidel and Pedro who both
bowled 2-5 MPH faster today. The exception was Lawson - he was barely military
medium. But he sure can make the ball nip back some ways. And I agree with
the commentators, he still has a kink in his action which he does not want
to draw attention to, which is why he probably is not trying to bowl express.
- Brian Lara definitely missed a trick or two in the captaincy department.
While Tino was charging in he should have had Pedro at the other end to keep
things tight and or Fidel charging in to really batter the Bangladeshi batters.
(like that alliteration? )
- More on the leadership front: I know the commentators mentioned practice
intensity and how Fidel should have taken high had some during the rain delays,
but hello isn't that where a captain goes up to his young player and says,
"son, lemme hit some up for you, I noticed you were off yesterday".
It's things like this that makes me believe that despite his batting genius
and general tactical nous, Lara is not a good captain. His 2nd day article
(as summarized by IanW) just rams that point home.
- Sarwan, and this is not the first time topic has been broached in cricket
discussions, can become quite a handy leggie. He's got a pretty deceptive
quicker one, and even Ash, Pilot & Mushfique had some trouble at picking
his straighter ones. If I'm him, I go and practice on getting some drift and
a googlie. At present however, we have no business gifting him a 3fer. (okay
that last wicket he earned).
- Why did D. Smith not bowl some more? He'd kept things tight yesterday. More
- Sarwan's and Best's antics were getting a little tiresome. You know shying
at the batsmen after every defensive play. I mean even umpire D. Harper was
forced to comment "Shy at the stump!"
Bangladesh Strategy For Tomorrow
- The Windies are demoralized! Lara's bemoanings about the good ole days confirms
that. This is an opportunity that must be seized by Bangladesh. Make
like you are going to make them field again (i.e. in your morning interviews,
etc), and then declare. Make them rush to having to bat all anxious.
- The Bangladesh bowlers must bowl a strict line and length and make the Windies
batsmen, who will be apprehensive and impatient, to come after them to force
things. I know Tapash, Rafique and Mushfique can do this, but Tareq I'm not
so sure about. He was somewhat erratic in the 3-day matches - but he does
bowl a few wicket taking deliveries
- If the pressure strategy works, it might not be a bad idea to bring in irregulars
like Rajin & Ash and spread the field to make Windies try and go for it.
- We must target making them follow-on. We have the runs on board
and Windies has a looong tail. None of the 4 pacers can bat (e.g. none has
a Test 50)and so after Jacobs, there is no one.
- Some overnight shower would not be a bad thing. It would slow down the outfield,
and the pitch would get juiced up. Also who wants to face a top-class SLA
on a sticky wicket.
- Our team's various aspects never click at the same time, and for that I'm
very apprehensive. To elaborate, when our bowling clicks batting fails and
vice versa. I really hope that messrs. Lara, Gayle and Sarwan do not run amuck.
Inshallah we will prevail in this match, weather permitting.