Friday, December 14, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Being focused and getting ready to win

Safaat U Shahadat

We have reached the stage of the Asia cup where we now have to compete against the very best in Asia. Few of the players Bangladesh will be facing would be the very best in not only Asia but also in the world. The best batsman Sachin Tendulkar, Best off spinner Murali, Fastest bowler Shoiab Akther and many more.

Bangladesh would have stood no chance of probably even running them close if the tournament was being played a year ago. However during this last year Bangladesh has improved so much that now not only fans can expect Bangladesh to compete against all three but also to win against one or two of them.

The question which arises is that what can we depend on to beat one of these major teams? To answer this let us just review Bangladesh's performance in each department over the last year.

Batting: Compared to the batting line up we had before and during the World Cup, the current line up has become far more dependable and promising. Batsmen like Ashraful, Bashar and Hannan are starting to perform a touch better and more consistently than before. This was evident during the Pakistan tour where Bashar and Hannan notched up better scores. Ashraful came into the limelight in Zimbabwe with a performance that enabled Bangladesh to win their first match in almost 4 years.

However in my opinion one of the main reasons for Bangladesh batting becoming better is Rajin Saleh. Although he scroes very slowly he has been able to hold the middle order together during the middle overs where in lies Bangladesh's greatest weakness. With him anchoring the middle overs the lower order which has always done its bit were being able to come in not having to worry about playing of fifty overs. Instead they were able to play aggressivly and ensure bangladesh would post scores in the region of 220. However having said all this team has still not been able to consistently score competitive scores. A good example would be the england series.

Tigers are stronger & mentally positive

Tigers are stronger & mentally positive

Bowling: probably the biggest and major improvemnet over the last one year. Not only have they become competitive in ODI but also in test. Prevously bangladesh would have been happy if they could restrict there opponent to totals of around 280 or if they could stretch their opponent till the 32nd or 35th over while defending scores around 160/180. Now however they try and restrict their opponent to as low a total as possible or for that matter defend scores of 150/170 (westindies and zimbabwe matches). This has happened during the time when they were missing probably their best RFM bowler Mashrafe.

Why has such a thing happened? Improvment in discipline. Line and lenght of most of the bowlers have improved, notably Tapash, mushfiq and Rafique.To go with it, consistently bowling out opponents in test matches have boosted their confidence. Confidence and discipline has in turn lead to them becoming more focused and motivated. Motivation and focus has in turn lead to them being able to belive that the can defend or stretch any team to their extent.

Feilding: this department has always been good for Bangladesh. However energy and enthusiasam for long periods used to be missing. This has been added over the last one year.

More importantly the players have now become mentally positive and stronger. They do not want to give matches away to their opponent.

Now lets come back to answer the main question.The question for which all this has been said. What can we depend on to win?

The answer is our bowling. The bowling has probably been the best department for the last one year. They won us a match against Zimbabwe when things werent going well till half way of the second innings, almost did it in the last match again and also in the first match against Westindies. The reason as said before is discipline and focus. However our bowlers have done well when our batsmen have set reasonable targets for them to defend. Thus all do not depend on our bowlers, the batsmen also have responsibility of scoring runs in order to give bowlers room to perform.

If we look back into history we may well see that bangladesh have won 4 of their 5 matches while defending. Chasing has been a real weakness and still remains so, as we just do not have enough fire in the top or lower order to give us a blasting start or finish while chasing 6 or 7 an over. The team is better in defending 6 or even 5/4 an over specially when it comes down to the last 15/12 overs. Thus it is very necessary that Bangladesh try to bat first, get a total on the board and then defend their way to an upset. The pitches in Colombo will also suit such a strategy as they become slow, low and turning as a match progresses.

However in the last 24 hours things have changed dramatically for Bangladesh. Razzaq's bowling action has been reported which, according to one media report, might lead BCB to stop him bowling for the rest of the tournament (altough no such restriction exists), Omar may not play for the rest of the matches due to injury and Mashud has been warned to change his gloves as the one he uses are bigger than the legal size. These matters can be very disturbing, however if we look back again, Javed and Razzaq have only come in the OD team during this series. Mashud is good enough keeper to keep with smaller gloves. Thus Bangladesh team needs to forget about all this, at least for the time being, and keep their focus on winning, after all victories do not seem far away.

The author is a distinguished member of banglacricket forum and goes by the nick "the_wall" - editors