Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, August 31, 2005
|Match report: Bangladesh vs. Sri Lanka, First ODI|
Sri Lanka defeats Bangladesh by 88 runs at Sinhalese Sports Club Ground, Colombo.
Bangladesh captain and perennial toss-loser Habibul Bashar must have felt happy when he finally won the toss for a change this morning. He opted to field first, obviously intending to exploit the seamer-conducive overcast conditions at least for an hour or so. Veteran Tapash Baisya (flown in from Dhaka to replace the injured Mashrafe Mortaza) and debutant Syed Rasel started against Sri Lankan neophyte Upul Tharanga and the immensely experienced Sanath Jayasuriya.
Bashar's expectation of taking quick early wickets proved hard to realize for several reasons, one being the relative inffectiveness of Baisya's bowling. Tapash Baisya lacks in several departments. He lacks in pace, errs in line and bowls too many balls that stray towards the leg side. He also makes mistakes in length and bowls too many fuller deliveries. He was unduly rewarded by Jayasuriya, who lost concentration and made an over-ambitious cross-batted heave and played all over a full, straight, innocuous delivery. Other than the one that took Jayasuriya's wicket, almost all the balls Tapash pitched up were given just treatment by the Sri Lankan batsmen on a batting pitch.
Syed Rasel, on the other hand, impressed with his fluid action. He is a medium-fast bowler whose balls barely reach the wicketkeeper at waist-height. The speed gun showed his speed falling in the vicinity of low-to-mid 70s mph, but the actual speed of his fast balls seemed in the mid-80s, significantly faster than Tapash, who was shown by the speed gun to bowl at upper-70s.
More important than Rasel's speed is his abilty to swing the ball away from the left-handed batsmen (or into the right-handed batsmen). He seems incapable of swinging the ball the other way, but once in a while he can bowl a straight ball, which, if he works on and employs at opportune moments, can give the batsmen headaches. There is hardly any further variation in Rasel's bowling as far as the general nature of his swing is concerned, and good batsmen should become accustomed to his line pretty quickly. The goal for Rasel, then, is to vary the length and pace of his one-way swinging deliveries.
Rasel was sticking to this goal for a while, giving both the left handed openers plenty of trouble during the early overs. Jayasuriya was beaten by a good length ball that pitched on middle-off and then swung away. On another occasion, he got an inside edge which might very well have gone on to the stumps. Rasel's bad luck didn't seem to end there as Shariar Nafees then inexplicably dropped an inexcusable sitter off Tharanga at second slip. The Bangladeshis' ground fielding, especially throwing, compounded their woes. Aftab messed up an easy run-out chance moments later with a horrible throw to the keeper.
Rasel being relatively fast also meant that whenever he made errors and put in wide or short balls, he was going to be punished. And that's exactly what happened, although he can be excused for some of those deliveries as he bowled them after being frustrated with his fielders' ineptitude. Tapash was also punished for aiming fullish deliveries at the batsmen's legs, but then again, uninspired and unimaginative bowling tends to be the norm when Tapash bowls. As a result, Sri Lanka raced to their 50 in just 7.1 overs. Jayasuriya grew in confidence and was looking dangerous until he performed his own undoing and got out bowled to a straight ball from Tapash, as explained earlier. To Tapash's credit, for once he kept the ball straight on middle-and-off.
Atapattu came in and was finding it hard to acclimatize. But Bangladesh fielders again helped him with all the breaks he needed at this early stage of his innings. Shahriar Nafees grassed another easy catch, this time at first slip off a Tapash delivery that Atapattu slashed at. The ball seemed to go straight into his hands and then it mysteriously went through them --- another unprofessional letoff.
By the time Rafique came on to bowl the twelfth over to replace Tapash, Sri Lanka was motoring along at a more than handsome six runs per over. Rasel continued to bowl, albeit at a slower pace and with a more restricted line, with Pilot standing close to the stumps. Bashar made several bowling changes to unsettle the batsmen, especially the not-so-confident Atapattu, and it seemed to work for a while. Atapattu, recently going through a slump in his form, wasted a lot of balls. The run rate dropped and Sri Lanka were unable to take advantage of the latter stages of power play, with only 37 runs coming from overs 11 to 20.
As field restrictions were lifted Tharanga opened up more (taking a particular liking for Khaled Mahmud's softballs) and reached his maiden fifty. He started to throw his bat around more after that and inevitably gave an easy chance off Aftab very soon, but Ashraful grounded a sitter at point.
Immediately after, Manjural Islam Rana, the super sub, was called in to bowl the 27th over, replacing the expensive Khaled Mahmud (26 in 5 overs). Rana was allowed to bowl only five overs, however, because Mahmud had already bowled five himself. It appeared to be a tactical mistake on Bashar's part. Aftab got Tharanga, who failed to capitalize on the life he was given, in the very next over. Tharanga got out to a straight medium paced ball that was right on middle and off, much like the way Jayasuriya got out.
Bangladesh's fielding woes continued as an out-of-the-crease Atapattu should have been stumped off Rafique. Rafique himself was the culprit fielder moments later as he was late to the ball, and made a weak, wayward throw from mid-on to Pilot. Sangakkara should have been run out by miles.
By the 30th over, Atapattu had settled and showed a little intent by coming down and spanking Aftab to the long on boundary. But the Sri Lankan captain was generously helped by his Bangladeshi counterpart moments later, as Bashar failed to bend down to cut off an easy glance toward the vacant thirdman region at gully. It was a criminally lethargic fielding attempt. Soon after, Atapattu hobbled to a fifty, a scratchy innings he would like to forget as soon as possible.
So, instead of a couple of wickets and a restricted runrate, Sri Lanka was helped by Bangladesh to achieve the exact opposite during the middle overs as their run rate crept above five. Sangakkara departed soon, miscuing an Aftab delivery to mid-on, where Shahriar Nafees made partial amends and held on to a straighforward catch. A few overs later Atapattu perished trying to find the extra cover boundary with an inside-out lofted drive. Instead, Javed Omar ran a good fifteen yards along the boundary and took a difficult sliding catch on the run. Aftab proved to be effective again and finished his quota - a spell of 10 overs on the trot - with two wickets.
Sri Lanka entered the last ten overs with two new batsmen at the crease, surely a situation for Bangladeshis to exploit. But Russell Arnold and Mahela Jayawardene had other ideas and were taking full advantage of what was bad tactics from Bashar. He bowled one after another Rafique and Rana, two identical slow left arm spinners, and they proved easy fodder for these two veteran batters. Fortunately for Bangladesh, their partnership came to a premature end as Arnold got run out. The throw from cover was horrible, Rana had to dive backwards to get it and and then turn around and throw at the stumps. But luckily the mixup between the Sri Lankan batsmen was equally horrible, Arnold was way down the track and the ball hit the wicket just in the nick of time.
The momentum now shifted towards Bangladesh. Dilshan top-edged a tight Rana delivery to fine leg and perished early. Rasel and Rafique kept things tight for a couple of overs, while Tapash helped Jayawardene with some customary stray balls. Shahriar Nafees then dropped his third catch of the day. This time he was at long on and spilled a Mahela heave off Rafique.
Bangladesh paid dearly for this miss as Mahela went on to play a brilliantly well-paced cameo role, staying till the end and unleashing boundaries all around the field. Things finally came together too late for Bangladesh in the innings' last over bowled by Rasel. The swing bowler got rewarded for his overall effort with an excellent final over, picking up two late wickets as Sri Lankans scrambled for boundaries. But Bangladeshis would not be happy with their shabbby fielding and bowling effort. Instead of 270, they could have easily been chasing a total at least thirty fewer runs.
The less that can be said of the Bangladeshi batting effort that followed, the better. Even though chasing such a large target was stiff, the way Bangladeshi top-order batsmen handled it was disheartening.
Javed Omar started his innings on the right note. He made Sri Lankan new-ball bowlers Vaas and Maharoof look mediocre and even spanked Maharoof for two consecutive boudaries, one of which was a difficult-to-execute but pleasant-looking on drive. The horrid memory of Chaminda Vaas taking three wickets in his first over a few years back seemed to be fully exorcised. But the good feeling didn't last long as Javed Omar needelessly ran himself out. Shahriar Nafees was barely done fending a riser and wasn't even aware of the whereabouts of ball, which trickled down to the leg gully. It was Javed's call as the non-striker whether to run for it or not, and he made the wrong decision. Nafees was under no condition to start his running, so Javed had to scamper back from mid-pitch. But his run out was not entirely his own undoing, the direct hit from the fielder was equally impressive. Either way, it was an unfortunate dismissal.
Shahriar Nafees then took off from where Javed left, but his approach was much more wristy and visually pleasing, as often is the case with left-handers. He scored boundaries by flicking balls off his hip and leaning on to drives to the on-side, and his aggressiveness nearly proved fatal when he bottom-edged a Maharoof delivery but lucklily for him, the ball went through the gate between the keeper and the first slip. In-form Tushar Imran opened with a square-driven boundary off Vaas, and Omar's dismissal wasn't looking as unlucky anymore.
It was false dawn, however, as Tushar Imran fell in what was a soft, ungainly dismissal. He poked sheepishly at an otherwise harmless Fernando delivery that didn't do much and was going straight to the keeper. Sangakkara gladly pouched the gift. By the end of the first ten overs, Bangladesh hadn't yet reached the half-century mark. One would expect that the Bangladeshis would now try to accelerate the run rate and take advantage of the field restritions by taking calculated risks.
Such prudent course of action was not on the mind of the next Bangladeshi batsman, the ever-impulsive Mohammad Ashraful. He signalled his intent by standing defiantly out of his crease and opened his account by flicking Maharoof to the square leg boundary. And true to his over-confident nature, he quickly got out in an ugly fashion. Fernando released a slower delivery outside off stump that was to be watched carefully and worked around. Instead, Ashraful took his eye off the ball, made a full-fledged heave and skied it to mid-on. It was a criminal mistake for a middle-order batsman to make, and one would think Ashraful has matured enough after more than fifty one-day outings, but he continues to disappoint.
Nafees, meanwhile, was in solid form, working more boundaries around the field and helping the scoreboard move along. Bashar looked uncomfortable at first. He was bamboozled once by the variation in pace from Fernando and almost inside-edged the ball to his stumps. But it was Nafees who got out before him, and through no fault of his own. The bowler Tilakaratne Dilshan took a flying one-handed catch on his left that stunned Nafees, who was expecting his on-drive to easily go through. It was the 20th over already, and Bangladesh was in deep trouble at 79/4.
Marvan Atapattu had employed spinners from both ends by this time, and he got an unexpected gift from umpire Ashoka de Silva. Upul Chandana's leg-spinning delivery pitched on off and hit Bashar's pad as it was going outside off, but the umpire thought otherwise. Bashar didn't look happy with the LBW decision given against him. With Bangladeshi runrate at only 3.6 and two new batsmen at the crease, the match was slipping away from Bangladesh's grasp. Young Aftab Ahmed made entirely sure that it did. Feet firmly planted on his crease, he attempted an off-drive away from his body and without any control over his shot, dragged an otherwise ineffective Maharoof delivery on to his stumps. Maharoof wouldn't mind such generosity at all.
At 88/6 on the 25th over, the match was now practically over for Bangladesh. The rest of the wickets fell in due course. It was odd but interesting to watch how the debutant tailender Rasel handled Murali with uncommon ease and even got a boundary off the legendary off spinner. It was also good to have Pilot and Tapash bat out the last sixteen overs in what was the highest tenth wicket partnership for Bangladesh in the ODIs. All said, Bangladeshis didn't quite live up to the potential they showed when they beat the world champions Australia a few months back. With the second ODI playing within two days, they need to get their act together quickly.
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