“We wanted to block the run scoring of Smith and Warner. We were trying to force them to do a mistake.”
This comment by Nasir Hossain in the post-day press conference sums up Bangladesh’s disappointing day at the office at Chittagong.
Throughout the day, instead of being proactive, the hosts were waiting for things to happen and here we are — Australia just trail by 80 with eight wickets in the bag at Stumps on Day 2.
In fact, so far in this series-decider, apart from winning the toss and the Sabbir Ahmed-Mushfiqur Rahim sixth wicket partnership, Bangladesh haven’t had much to cheer for.
In cricket, especially in the longest format, it is all about seizing the moment. But the hosts, so far, haven’t been able to do so in the Chittagong Test.
Starting the day at 253 for 6, Bangladesh would have liked to reach the 350-mark. Though, it seems on this track, that would have been a par score as well.
However, they managed to reach only 305. At the end of day’s play, Nasir himself admitted that his team is ‘100 to 150 runs short’ of what would have been a safe score in the first innings.
Ideally, with a below par score to defend, Bangladesh should have come out with a positive mindset with just only intention – attack, attack and attack. They got the ideal start when Mushfiqur Rahim caught a blinder to dismiss Matthew Renshaw in the second over of the Australian innings.
But unfortunately, from that point, things went downwards from there for the hosts and they have only themselves to blame for this.
The Bangladesh spin-trio, which took 19 out of 20 Australian wickets at Mirpur, looked completely out of sorts. On this non responsive wicket, Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Shakib Al Hasan and Taijul Islam were not getting the same kind of assistance which was evident in the last match. Also, here their line and lengths were meant to stop the batsmen from scoring quickly rather than getting them out. But the Bangladeshi think-tank should have understood that such negative tactics do not work against the quality batsmen like Steven Smith and David Warner. The duo just milked the bowling to firm Australia’s position in the game.
It was disappointing to see two of Bangladesh’s strike bowlers, Mehedi and Shakib also adopting to such a negative mindset. In fact, they could not implement the defensive tactics properly as well. They do not have enough experience of bowling defensively on a surface that doesn’t turn much and it was evident on the field today.
Questions have to be raised on Mushfiqur’s captaincy as well. He did not seem to have a ‘Plan B’, especially when the Warner-Smith partnership was taking the game away from the Tigers.
Unlike the Bangladesh batsmen, the Aussies did not try to play straight against spin on this track. Instead, they approached this innings as the middle overs of a 50-overs match. They created angles by moving at the crease and found gaps to score runs even of good balls. The toothless Bangladesh bowling did not have any clue to stop this run-flow.
The defensive field setting also helped their cause. Today, for the most part of the Australian innings, Mushfiqur preferred to have fielders in the deep. Even for some unknown reason, towards the end of day’s play, when both the batsmen were batting for survival, Bangladesh had a deep mid-wicket in place. During that time, due to dehydration someone like Peter Handscomb, was not able to stand properly at the crease but Bangladesh, instead of attacking, kept providing him easy singles.
On the hindsight, the couple of missed chances against Warner also hurt the home side. First Mominul Haque dropped a relatively easy chance at short-leg and later in the final session, the skipper missed a stumping opportunity. The wicket of Warner at that point, could have opened the floodgates like it did in the second innings at Mirpur.
Ideally, from the current position, Australia would like to bat Bangladesh out of the Test match. One feels, they will target a minimum lead of 200 from here. If they can reach there by the end of tomorrow, one believes it will be all over for the hosts at Chittagong.
Ominous signs for Bangladesh!
(With inputs from Nazmul Abedeen, who is the mentor of most of the current Bangladesh cricketers)