The Tigers they call them. The minnows of Test cricket till some time back are finally being acknowledged as a force in Test cricket and as though to commemorate that they sloshed Sri Lanka in their backyard in their 100th Test to celebrate the occasion.
In foresight, it was just Bangladesh’s second win in Tests since 2015. They had beaten England at home in October 2016 but the away victory somehow seemed sweeter. Yet, as Australia lands in the country to play Tests after eleven long years, there is a sense that a victory now would mean much more to Bangladesh cricket than ever.
With a few days to go for the first Test, we analyse Bangladesh’s batsmen and spinners, both of whom have played a pivotal role in their rise in recent years.
Bangladesh have been blessed with quite a few strong batsmen in recent years. Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar at the top have more often than not provided them with sound, stable starts, especially in home Tests while the likes of Shakib-al-Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim and Imrul Kayes have formed a core middle-order which has contributed when it matters. Even Mossadek Hossain, who entered the frame in the 100th Test, slammed a 75 to establish himself in the setup.
There is little to doubt that the credentials of their batsmen. They have played against some strong opponents but have managed to rack up runs like never before. It reached a peak when they compiled a 595 against a strong Kiwi attack in their backyard in January this year.
Since 2015, there are five Bangladesh batsmen who average in excess of 40 in Tests – Shakib-al-Hasan, Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, Imrul Kayes and Mossadek Hossain. These guys form the core of Bangladesh’s batting in Tests and it stands them in good stead that their main guns are in form and firing.
Shakib leads the averages with 50 in 12 Tests including 2 tons and 4 half-centuries while Tamim, Mushfiqur and Imrul Kayes follow with averages of 44.47, 44.35 and 42.71. The table below details their overall statistics(home and away) in Tests since 2015.
However, on closer inspection, we see that in home Tests, the averages take a dip. Tamim leads the way in terms of runs and averages and Shakib and Imrul Kayes also average above 40. But these are just three of the seven batsmen and the likes of Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim and Sabbir Rahman average less at home than their overall averages since 2015. Below table shows their performance in home Tests since 2015.
The entry of Mehedi Hasan Miraz has given them a solid spin bowling option in Test match cricket. Combined with Shakib-al-Hasan and Taijul Islam, the threat amplifies, especially on the slower decks in the sub-continent. The three combined to devastating effects against England at Dhaka in October last year and there is little to suggest that the trend would change when the Aussies arrive.
Since 2015, their spinners have done a decent job in Tests with Shakib leading the way with 36 scalps in 12 Tests. Mehedi Hasan follows close on his heels with 35, albeit in 5 matches fewer while Taijul has 23 in 8 matches.
In home Tests, Mehedi and Shakib are level at 19 wickets although the former has figured in only two matches as against Shakib’s seven. Taijul is third with 18 in six games. Below table shows their performance in home Tests since 2015.
|Mehedi Hasan Miraz||2||19||15.63|
Things get interesting as the numbers take a leap when considering only matches in which Bangladesh have won. Mehedi has 16, Shakib has 11 and Taijul 5 wickets in 2 such matches (against England at home and Sri Lanka in Colombo). The averages, which were 39.25, 31.80 and 42.04 (Mehedi, Shakib and Taijul in order) in Tests since 2015 dip to 20.0, 22.18 and 30.0 in matches they have won.
While there is no doubt that Bangladesh batsmen have played a major role in their rise as a competent Test nation, it is the spinners who have created an impact in matches they have won. Added to the fact that they would be facing the Aussies, vulnerable in the sub-continent, the onus will be on the spinners to deliver a win for the Tigers.