BanglaCricket.com: Article


Friday, August 01, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, January 18, 2005
The morning after: chasing 374

Rafiq Ahmed
 

Congrats to Bangladesh on a series win, and for saving this test from the brink of defeat when they were set a humongous 374 to win on the 4th day.

Congrats also to Nafis for evolving his game so quickly - each innings he has played in this series has shown increasing maturity, and I am glad to see an attacking player who can also graft - qualities essential in an opener.

And who can help but be excited by Enamul's great talent and his contagious enthusiasm for the game? Not to forget his humility.

Tatenda Taibu deserves great credit for instilling fight in his team and leading them to make a match of it. We don't have experience watching Bangladesh in a competitive tussle over 5 days, and this series was a first in that regard - good for the team, fans and cricket in general.

Now for the downside, and if there is one it's the morning-after feeling that perhaps we could have done a bit more with that 5th day chase. A majority of fans on this board will not agree, but there is one particular reason I feel we could have gone for the win yesterday.

I know the impossible situation Bangladesh were in when faced with chasing 374. Only 3 other teams had done it before and with our 1st innings total and propensity to collapse, chasing this total would have been suicidal.

And so the correct decision was to graft, and Javed Omar and Nafis did exactly that to reach a fantastic 98/0 at stumps on the 4th Day. They had set the innings up to allow Bangladesh room to do whatever it wanted on the final day.

On the 5th day, we were no longer chasing 374, we were now starting essentially a new innings, needing 276 to win with all our wickets and all day to get them. The pitch was holding up fine, and one wonders if Taibu made a mistake taking the heavy roller at the innings break - from what i read the cracks dissapeared as a result.

The ask rate was 3 - not 4 or 5 or 6, but 3. It was not even an ODI ask rate. Overnight I was among the group of fans who suggested a go slow approach but at a reasonably fast enough rate to keep the target in sight. The vast majority of Bangalcricket fans who answered the overnight Poll on the result went with "Win".

"Reasonably fast" was perhaps around 2-2.5 in the morning session. The ball was old, it was not swinging and there was an opportunity to open up after the early morning dew conditions wore off. Some of the commentators, whether they were negative or not, suggested that Bangladesh should keep some pressure on Zimbabawe so they don't start put pressure on us with field placements.

Yet we scored at 1.5 or so for the first session and most of the second. The difference between 1.5 and 2.0 is nominal. yet it would have allowed us to have a chance at the end.

To get 2.0-2.5, you don't have to go fishing outside the offstump or throw away your wicket. You don't have to take undue risk. You just take a few singles through the gaps instead of blocking away the whole session, and you occasionally punish the many bad balls that were offered. Not until Cremer came on did the Zim bowling look threatening - and that was 20 overs into the day.

In the final analysis, when the win-or-draw chase decision was made, we were not really chasing 374 but actually 276. And we could have stayed in touch with the target withouth taking undue risks. Having 10 wickets ensured that if we were to lose any wickets we could go back into the shell.

Bangladesh had no experience chasing to win a test match. At the beginning what seemed impossible became less so at the end of the 4th day. In time we will learn to change our strategy as opportunities present themselves. On this occasion, we didn't. It's not necessarily dissapointing but it's just something else the team will learn in time.

Roosevelt said (and I read this on the doodle board above the men's urinal in some Sufi cafe in downstate Illinois earlier this week!): "We must try to do the things we think we cannot". I think we must and believe, in time, we will.