Wednesday, October 27, 2021
Updated: Friday, April 07, 2006
The Preview: Bangladesh vs Australia

Asaad Wahid
Once again, Bangladesh fans are hopeful amid an extremely difficult series and the haters will come out with their microscopes in full force. The Aussies have arrived and are ready to make amends for ODI losses against Bangladesh last year and South Africa last month.

There is a belief that this might be Bangladesh's golden opportunity to impress on the world stage given all the limelight of playing against the Australian juggernaut. This sentiment is fueled by talk of historic Aussie struggles in the Subcontinent conditions. Whilst, the Aussies may struggle more in the Subcontinent than anywhere else, their record here is still quite imposing.

Since 2000, the Australians have played 11 tests in the Subcontinent, 7 in India and 4 in Sri Lanka. The Australians have won 7 of these tests, drawn 1, and lost 3. All the losses and the lone draw were against India. Their average first innings score in India is 355 and they have managed to restrict the Indians to 250 in reply. Although boasting a perfect 4-0 record against the Lankans, the Aussies have played catch-up well in the island nation. The Aussies, on average, have trailed by 17 runs after the 1st Innings against Sri Lanka.

There is no doubt he is licking his chops to score big.
Thus, merely playing at home in familiar conditions is not enough to guarantee anything for the Tigers. Bangladesh must be willing to play their best cricket.

The most important aspect for Bangladesh is, once again, top order batting. Many urge the selectors to seriously re-think the automatic inclusion that Javed Omar enjoys in Tests. While, he is a very modest batsman at best, there are pros and cons to his batting. On the down side, he has only one 50 since the end of 2004. He has just one half century in his last 9 Tests. However, he is a grafter and will see the shine off the new ball. His average number of balls faced per innings is 61. This accounts for exactly 10 overs. The liability of having Javed is that he is the only top order batsman who is nearly guaranteed to get out before scoring 50.

Habibul Bashar has shown that his lean patch is over with back to back 60+ scores in the 2nd Test against Lanka. But perhaps the most burning question is if Mohammad Ashraful will pick up where he started against the Sri Lankans rather than continue what befell him with the Kenyans. There is no doubt he is licking his chops to score big. Indeed, the success of Bangladesh's innings will depend on these two batsman. The others can more or less be counted on to support them.

Many fans have also deplored the lack of an Aftab Ahmed in the test squad. No doubt, his talent should not be left out, but at this point, even a victorious Aftab will really only enhance Bangladesh's Test position cosmetically. Without him, Bangladesh may lack some runs on the board, but may actually fight harder because the innings will consume more overs. However, in the end, the critics will look not whether Bangladesh lasted till lunch on day 3 or till tea on day 4, but how many runs were scored. On that note, Aftab will definitely be an asset. Though if he scores his runs at half his customary pace, Bangladesh will be much better off.

In the bowling department, Bangladesh have their work cut out for them. But this is also our relative strength, as the bowling rarely collapses. We are lead by the return of our pace king, Mashrafee. Indeed, he ends up taking the most prized scalps in Test cricket. Names like Grant Flower, Tendulkar, and Dravid soon end up on a list of those blitzed by the Narail Express. Also, Mortaza is quite intelligent and knows the task at hand as he expressed to the Daily Star today, "We are going to face a team where even batting of Shane Warne and Brett Lee can snatch the early initiatives. What I want to say that there is no scope to planning against one or two particular batsmen."
Mortaza is quite intelligent and knows the task at hand

Mashrafee understands that bowling to Australia is a special assignment. He has along with him, Syed Russel and Shahadat Hossain. Russel will manage the run rate but may struggle to pick up wickets unless he gets considerable movement off the seam, a highly likely scenario with the recent rains in Dhaka. Hossain may pick up more wickets, but has a tendency to get punished.

The key to all this may not be Rafique but young Enamul. Enamul's variety creates trouble for opposing batsman, and against the adventurous Australian batsman, that may create a chance for more breakthroughs.

In the end, this is a series which Bangladesh will be happy to take to the 4th day, but if they play a perfect game and cause the Aussies to default any, the game may just reach the 5th day.

In all these pre-game analysis, we can safely omit speaking even slightly about the Australian capabilities. Admittedly because we all know so very little which is beyond the commonly know facts. Also, it is now time for Bangladesh to begin to play their game regardless of the opposition.