Monday, December 17, 2018
Updated: Thursday, April 05, 2007
Next step: mastering the short version

Imran Kabir

With Bangladesh storming their way into the Super 8s stage of World Cup 2007, we have paved our path into the world of Cricket Elites. We achieved our world cup goal with the help young talents who are somehow inexperienced with different circumstances. Our young brigade proved their potential in 50 over matches. But what happens when we have to play under nature's rule? What happens if the limited over match turns out to be even shorter than expected? May be our first match in the Super eights opener against Australia may help us analyze the situation.

Mashrafee Mortaza giving a good fight during the first Super 8s match against Australia
Mashrafee Mortaza giving a good fight during the first Super 8s match against Australia © CricInfo

Rain had dominated the day match with a wet outfield, which caused a frustrating five hour delay in the match, resulting in the match being curtailed to twenty-two overs for each side. Soon, the game plan with all the bells and whistles has effectively changed. What used to be a 10 over quota on each bowler, turned out to be a 5 over quota for maximum 2 bowlers, and 4 overs quota for the other 3 bowlers. Rules for power play changed to 9 overs. After losing the toss and batting under overcast condition, the strategies of the batsmen for settling down in the wicket changed to a much shorter tactic that needed to improvise based on the playing conditions for making sure that the runs keep coming at a higher pace.

The question I would like to ponder here is, do you really think that our players have the right skills and experiences to handle such situations? I certainly do not think so. We need to look at it from different perspectives, to understand where our players lacked in executing a improvised game plan. I would like to approach it from two aspects. First, it is the sense of urgency that needs to be questioned. And second, it is the amount of control on the bat and the ball that needs to be given a major focus. Let us take a look at it.

Sense of urgency

The sense of urgency relates to the need among all the players to judge the situation effectively, and play according to the situation. This is certainly a key issue in every cricket match including the full 50-over format of the limited over game, where our team lacks consistency. Our top order often fails to deliver and when in the panic mode, our middle order wobbles. In the 50-over format a collapse or unexpected situations can be handled as the players have enough time to regroup and execute a plan B which differs from situation to situation. To handle similar situations in a much curtailed game requires experience and responsibility to execute altered plan (s).

Compare that with the way we have played the match against Australia. Before going to the field, we were all well aware of the over reduction. It did not happen some time during the match, and so uncertainty cannot be given a benefit of the doubt. However, even after knowing about the over reduction well in advance, our top order remained fragile, while our middle order played absolutely in a 50-over format fashion. The sense of urgency did not work in our middle order batsmen. Thanks to Mashrafee Mortaza for his quick 25 run innings from 17 balls at a scoring rate of 147.05. Compare that with Habibul Bashar's 24 runs from 43 balls at a scoring rate of 55.81, and Saqibul Hasan's 25 from 36 balls at a scoring rate of 69.44.

Looking at the above situation, it only seems to me that when Habibul Bashar and Saqibul Hasan were playing in the middle, they were more concerned with keeping wickets in hand than trying to accelerate for a good score even by risking the wickets. Why would losing wickets in this match be acceptable? It is simply because of the fact that even if we scored 20 to 30 extra runs at the expense of losing 3 more wickets, there would not have been any potential shortage of batsmen towards the end. Remember that we also had Mohammad Rafique, Abdur Razzak, and Tapash Baisya to bat. All three of them have been effective with the bat in a few occasions. And they certainly would not have had a scoring rate that is less than that of Bashar and Saqib.

Amount of control

Personally, I was impressed with Tamim Iqbal's ability to connect the ball with the bat at the beginning of the innings. Against Australia in a different situation, he could not find the gaps, make use of the field restrictions, and ultimately gave away his wicket out of frustration. When Bashar and Saqib were playing in the middle, they have tried to score some quick runs without any success. Mistiming the shot, bad placement, slow outfield, and lack of aggression in the batsmen are the causes of this. These certainly made the difference, and one after the other our batsmen failed to show any control over their shots. However, two batsmen that are worth cheering for in this case are Aftab Ahmed and Mashrafee Mortaza. Almost certainly Aftab has played controlled shots, but was caught with a good catch by Nathan Bracken. And Mashrafee's 25 from 17 balls does not leave me with much to say.

In the field, our bowlers and fielders made a superb effort in controlling the extras. There were no extras given, meaning that the field placement was top notch. However, I truly believe our bowling needed to be a bit more aggressive. In a Twenty20 style match, bowling figures of 3 overs for 21 runs is not unheard of. Razzak also had a superb bowling figure of 15 runs from 3 overs. But it only seemed like that Mashrafee was having his day out there, with only 20 runs given from 4 overs. That is a superb bowling figure for a Twenty20 match.

From these figures, it looks like only a few of our bowlers have been able to deliver appropriately for the match. Others do have the inability to bowl tight, and restrict runs. 56 runs in 10 overs bowled by Mashrafee, Razzak, and Rafique and 55 runs in 3.5 overs bowled by Tapash, Aftab, and Saqib effectively shows the difference in quality.

With Twenty20 World Cup 2007 knocking on the door, I truly hope that the Tigers focus on these two areas for greater success. Yes, experience in this format of the match is an important issue. If our Tigers have to play better game in the days coming ahead, they must master the short version of the game. That will help us in both the full 50-over format of the match, as well as the matches that are at the mercy of nature.