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The African safari was a study in contrast of hopes, expectations and realities. We left for Africa with hopes of a double away series win. Instead we lost the first half 2-3 to Zimbabwe and only redeemed ourselves with the 3-0 whitewash of Kenya. The reality is that we have not quite left the minnow tag behind and have much work to do to do well in the future ICCT and WC tourneys.

African safari 2006 - Final grades

Published: 16th August, 2006


The African safari was a study in contrast of hopes, expectations and realities. We left for Africa with hopes of a double away series win. Instead we lost the first half 2-3 to Zimbabwe and only redeemed ourselves with the 3-0 whitewash of Kenya. The reality is that we have not quite left the minnow tag behind and have much work to do to do well in the future ICCT and WC tourneys.

This tour was somewhat successful. We did get a series win against our onetime foe Kenya. One player who took a lot of heat for losing the Zimbabwe series came back with a vengeance. Won three back to back Man of Match to redeem himself. Mashrafe Murtaza. Finishing the series on a high is all well and dandy but this away tour had put a spot light on our main shortcomings. With the World Cup knocking at the door, the team management must rectify the problems as soon as possible.

I have my grade book out and as I will walk down the order offering my thoughts and opinions.

Shahriar Nafees: Our one and only opener?

Our one and only opener?

At the top order, inconsistency was the real problem. We used 3 opening combinations in the 8 games. Both team management and players have must share the blame. The inclusion of Javed Omar was a terrible mistake. There is no justification for him to be in the team in the first place. He didn’t do anything extraordinary in the last three series to be part of the team. In 7 out of 8 games, our first wicket fell at an average of 17 within 5 overs. Only the stand of 99 between Shahriar Nafees and Rajin Saleh in the 5th game of the Zimbabwe series bumped up the average to 27.63. Rajin, too, does not have the answer. His inability to work the ball and rotate the strike is a major reason for his mediocre strike rate. We must find a permanent partner for Shahriar Nafees before the next World Cup.

The 2nd wicket partnership was worse averaging only 19.38 in 8 games. Aftab Ahmed is the main culprit here. 7 out of 8 times he was involved in one down partnership. His inability to build a partnership was the main cause of this low partnership average.

The team think tank also has to share some responsibility here. When we don’t have a good opening partnership, why put in a guy and ask him to hit out? I fully understand taking advantage of the fielding restriction but losing wickets too early puts tremendous pressure on the batting lineup. If we can not negotiate the sedentary medium pace of Kenya and Zimbabwe, what would we do against the likes of Shoaib, Lee, and Bond? I, for one, don’t want to see Vaas's picking up a hat trick in the first three balls of the match in the next world cup. Solution to this one-down and many other down problems is to make they players practice more. There is no alternative to practice. The management must create tournaments, even with local sides, to make sure these boys rectify their mistakes before the World Cup.

Going further down the order we are faced with Ash the Man. Ashraful’s position in the team is a concern. I would like to see him open the innings more since neither Rajin nor Javed Omar is an option and we have no genuine opening batsman. One fifty and three single digit scores out of 8 outings is not what a team demands from a second down batsman. It should have been the opposite for a decent second down batsman.

Next down Alok Kapali. The less said the better.

Habibul Bashar played two games before he was sidelined by injury. In those two games he too under performed.

I do like what I see in the new comers Sakibul Hasan and Farhad Reza. Although I must admit I was little skeptical about their early inclusion. Since Zimbabwe and Kenya is not the standard that we will be facing from 2007 I for one hope and pray that they are not thrust into the firing line too soon. Then again, the alternatives are not promising. Sakib did a fabulous job in the four games he played. At times he seemed to be in a little hurry but that will change with experience. Reza is a performer. I hope he continues to build on what he has done this series. This pair of newcomers have the highest average for this series. Reza 46.3, and Sakib right behind with 44 (not counting Abdur Razzaq’s infinity average).

Khaled Mashud captained 6 games, winning 4 and losing 2. Considering his individual performance, his average was 35.33 right behind Shahriar Nafees’s 36.38. As a seventh down batsman (5 matches), with top order collapsing almost every game, he did a fairly decent job. He played a role in 6 25+ run partnership (matching Ash and Aftab). Only Shahriar Nafees (10) had more. However, he does need to pay attention to running out his partners. His strike rate was very low, but losing a wicket with unnecessary risk would have meant end of Bangladesh innings.

Mohammad Rafique did great with the ball. I can’t recall any bowler finishing his quota of 10 overs conceding less than 20 runs for Bangladesh. His batting and fielding was as always unpredictable and below par. Three zeroes in the last three matches didn’t serve his cause. We should not be depending on him get the score to go above 250 anyway. That’s the top order's job. A good foundation always allows players like Rafique to play freely.

Mashrafe Murtaza’s Zimbabwe series was a disaster. However, he bounced back nicely in the second half of the series. Three back to back Man of Match awards were all well deserved. Congratulations!! His batting in the second ODI against Kenya should be a lesson for our top order. Controlling the unnecessary shots and playing with a cool, he shepherded Razzaq and brought us the win. Experience for once helped Bangladesh win a match.

This brings in Abdur Razzaq. He was a man with a mission. This was his coming out party from the shadows of Rafique. Interestingly, Razzaq remained unbeaten in all 4 assays at bat. This should be a record where a Bangladeshi player played 4 games and remained not out for the entire tour. Yes, he is #10 in the depth chart but yet he faced 55 balls in four matches and score 45. Hello Rajin, Aftab, Ash are you guys reading this? He bowled a total of 63 overs for 220 runs and got 9 wickets. His economy rate was 3.49 and he was averaging a wicket for every 24.4 runs. Alok are you reading this?

Finally Shahadat. Boy, a hattrick no matter who the opponent is should be something to cherish for a long time. It becomes more important when it is the first one for the country in an ODI. My disappointment was his inability to gather himself after Rafique dropped a sitter in the 3rd ODI against Zimbabwe. As a bowler, one must learn to ignore the negative and concentrate on the positives. He is at times a bit too aggressive, but I am not complaining. He will learn in time.


Management: C. Bumped up the grade from D by sending Alok and JO back.
JOmar: F.
SNafees: The one and only opener we have. A-
RSaleh: C
AAhmed: D
MAahraful: C-
HBashar: C. We did lose the first game under his captaincy which put us into the back foot form the very beginning.
AKapali: F. Scoring 33 runs and giving away 66 runs in 8.4 overs with zero wickets. Style?
SHasan: A- as a new comer and his performance was over my expectation.
FReza: A same as above.
KMasud: WK A, Batting D (runouts), Captaincy C: overall C
MRafique: Bowling B+, Batting D soft corner upgrade: overall C+
MMortaza: A- The 17 run last over, grrr.
ARazzaq: A Bowling and batting.
SHossain: B Hat trick upgrade.
SRasel: A


About the author(s): Like most ex-pats Mijanul Akbar is always keen to see Bangladesh excel in every aspect of life. Sports is in his blood. He is a family man, works as an Auditor in US and also teaches Management courses online. We know him as Tigers_eye in our forum.


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