Modern-day batting in one-day cricket
Over the years, batting in the 50-over format has changed a lot. In the 80s and early 90s, batsmen used to see off the new ball in the first ten to fifteen overs and waited for the hammer and tongs at the bowling in the death overs. From the mid-90s, the scenario started to change. With the tracks heavily favouring the batsmen and rules more suited towards the willow-wielders, having a go at the bowlers in the first ten to fifteen overs became one of the best options for the last twenty years. And in this era of Twey20 and heavy bats, destroying the new ball bowlers is not a risk-taking option anymore, but a routine work.
But still, at times, the conditions and situation matter when composure is more demanded than early onslaught. In such cases, if a team tends to lose early wickets and conditions favouring the bowlers, a batting team needs to emphasise on caution and wait for the last ten overs to accelerate the run rate. According to modern powerplay rules, maximum five fielders are allowed to field outside the 30-yard circle and it is quite tough to unleash the brute force, but one must not forget, there is always a way to push the run rate under such circumstances.
Inconsistent Bangladesh batting in last ten overs
Bangladesh are one of the most improved sides in limited-overs cricket these days, but still in some areas they need invest more brains rather than heart. Since the last ICC World Cup, one can notice their ability to tonk the new ball bowlers, but when it the situation is about acting smartly in the last ten overs, they have always been found wanting.
Over the last couple of one-day international (ODI) series, Bangladesh have not been consistent performers with the bat in last ten overs. In the first ODI against England at Mirpur, they collapsed against Jake Ball despite being in a very good position while in the third at Chittagong, they lost their way after forty overs. On occasions, when Bangladesh did rediscover their true batting mojo in death overs, they went on to win. One cannot forget Bangladesh’s smart batting in the second ODI against England last year when they stabilized the innings from a hopeless 169 for 7 and in the first ODI against Sri Lanka at Dambulla this year when a brutal display nailed the Lankans.
Bangladesh failed to accelerate in last ten overs at Dublin
At Dublin, in the third match of tri-series against New Zealand, Bangladesh boldly accepted Tom Latham’s invitation to bat first on a seaming track and New Zealand-like condition. Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar went berserk against Hamish Bennett and Seth Rance. The open pair posted 72 runs in just fifteen overs by scripting superbly timed strokes and slog-shots to put Latham on the backfoot.
But the Kiwis struck through Jimmy Neesham, Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner. All of a sudden, the Bangladesh innings lost its momentum as they lost four wickets for sixty runs. Mahmudullah Riyad and Mushfiqur Rahim took the responsibility of arresting a collapse and stitched a very important partnership of 64 runs for the fifth wicket. Mushfiq departed in the 38th over and twelve overs were remaining and with hitters like Mosaddek Hossain, Mehedi Hasan and Mashrafe Mortaza yet to come, it was expected Bangladesh would push hard to post a challenging total in 50 overs.
But in the remaining overs, Bangladesh failed to unleash the expected onslaught and kept on losing wickets. They posted 257 for 9 in 50 overs which was never going to test the Kiwis who are known to chase totals very well over the years. And when the conditions are more suited to them, they are almost unstoppable. For the last three years, they boast a run rate more than six runs/over while chasing totals and were hardly hampered by a tough asking rate. Moreover, they do such things in a commendable fashion. Teams like India, Sri Lanka, England, Australia and Pakistan have experienced their might and thus, Bangladesh’s total was almost a cakewalk for them.
What Bangladesh needed to do?
The New Zealand bowlers took the pace off the ball in the last ten overs. They out thought Mahmudullah and Mosaddek by mixing each and delivery. The Bangladesh batsmen went for the slog shots most of the times and failed to essay big hits. What Bangladesh needed to do was rotate the strike more and try to take singles and couples as much as possible to pressurise the in-field and force Latham to protect the in-field by leaving gaps in the outfield, which would have helped the power-hitters from Bangladesh to have a go at the bowlers. But trying to focus only on big hits didn’t pay rich dividends for the Tigers.
When the opposition bowlers take the pace off the ball in death overs, the smart way is to invest faith in strike rotation and hit boundaries when the in-field feels the pressure. Bangladesh need to act smartly in future.
Lastly, I noticed the Bangladesh bowlers out of sorts while bowling. They bowled in patches and the fielders lacked the intent to chase the ball and stop the singles and couples. Since the end of Sri Lanka tour, Bangladesh have not played enough international cricket. In that sense, they had adequate rest for this tri-series. But their out-of-sorts body language was surprising and won’t help them to dream big in the upcoming Champions Trophy in England.