Mustafizur Rahman ended Australia’s innings early and then, it was up to the Bangladesh batsmen to exhibit character and give the visitors a competitive total on final day. The track at Chittagong was three days old and even though, it offered a sharp turn on the fourth day, still there were no demons underneath the surface. It was a good track to bat on. Bangladesh were needed to bat, according to the merit of the delivery and exhibit resolve to make the day a productive one.
But as soon as the second innings of Tigers commenced, it turned out to be a frustrating batting display.
Bangladesh openers were shaken by the fury of Cummins
Pat Cummins came out all guns blazing and in his very first over, he was able to soften Tamim Iqbal by pitching the ball up with a scrambled seam and sharp pace. His second ball clocked around 140.6 kmph and whizzed past Tamim’s outside edge and then he followed it up with a rib-snoter. Cummins’ hostility put Bangladesh opening batsmen on the back foot from the start, but being the nucleus of Bangladesh batting lineup over the years, Tamim should have weathered the storm with patience.
Cummins continued to breathe fire and his deliveries clocked around 147.6 kmph and drew first blood by dismissing an unstable Soumya Sarkar. Soumya failed to counter perfectly due to poor footwork – flat feet and should have played forward rather than back.
For the fourth time in a row, in this Test series, Soumya’s lack of footwork and inability to curb the aggressive instinct led to his downfall. When he was needed to shut up his critics, he fared poorly. Despite so much criticism, Chandika Hathurusingha and many of us kept the faith in him, but time and again, he frustrated us all. If he does not improve his footwork and technical deficiencies, I don’t think, he can be a Test batsman.
Meanwhile, Australia noticed Tamim’s uncomfortable state and toyed with his ego. Whereas Tamim should have been patient enough, he decided to script something adventurous. He danced down the wicket without even judging the line and length and Matthew Wade dislodged the bails to hook the big fish. It was an absolute brain fade from the most experienced batsman of Bangladesh.
Why did Mushfiqur Rahim not come out to bat at number four?
Two wickets down and plenty of batting to come, surprisingly, to the utter astonishment of all, Nasir Hossain was sent to bat at number four. I still cannot understand, why Mushfiqur Rahim doesn’t move up the order? Mushfiq is a better batsman than wicketkeeper and sacrificing the batsmanship for the sake of keeping is nothing but stupidity from the Test captain of Bangladesh.
While the Australian bowling was at the top of their mark, the captain of the team should have stepped in. Moreover, I was not sure, why Mominul Haque did not come out to bat at number four as he batted on that position in the first innings. Yes, he received a blow on his body while fielding at short leg, but whether the blow was severe or not remains a moot question. There were neither any reports about his injury nor the condition of fitness which raises the doubt about his commitment towards the team – whether he plays to save his career or for the team.
With a number three batsman, who’s obsessed with his batting position rather than scoring runs, and a number eight batsman battling out there, Australia’s intent became more aggressive. In the twinkle of an eye, Bangladesh were four down.
Imrul Kayes essayed a shot as if he still did not recover from his obsession to bat as an opener and chipped a dolly to Glenn Maxwell at cover. To exhibit a back foot stroke against shortish length, it’s very important to get into the position early. But Imrul succumbed yet again.
Shakib Al Hasan joined Nasir.
A rusty Shakib Al Hasan
We all know Shakib plays the way he feels comfortable. But at times, the best player in the team needs to act sensibly according to the demand of the situation. He loves to play his shots and counterattack, but in such a critical situation, he was needed to exhibit a controlled aggression. I was not sure why Shakib came forward to block a turning ball on the middle stump line. Shakib lost his balance and the spin took the edge as David Warner was ecstatic to grab the catch.
Australia were all over Bangladesh.
Bangladesh lose the way
The figure of Mushfiq appeared on the scene when Bangladesh were 39 for 4. But no sooner had he got adapted to the chaotic situation, Nasir Hossain failed to judge the line of O’Keefe and leaned forward to defend without even understanding the turn of the ball. Bangladesh were reeling at 43 for 5.
Mushfiq and Sabbir gave hope, but Australia were in such a momentum, it never seemed, they would let Bangladesh to come back once again.
Sabbir was beaten by flight while Mushfiq was outclassed by a fourth-stump delivery from Cummins. Mominul came out to bat at number eight and it was simply funny to see a middle order batsman walking out to bat in that position with no hints of fitness problems. His stay was short and except Mehidy Hasan Miraz’s resistance, Bangladesh ended up the ghost to complete the show with a disappointing batting display.
What message does this poor batting display give us?
Today’s crazy batting display conveyed a very clear message to us all. The Bangladesh batsmen can be trapped easily if a bowler toys with their ego and attacks them with pace bowlers. Bangladesh’s shambolic batting display in the second innings was more due to lack of mental strength and technical inefficiencies.
The Bangladesh batsmen lost the battle very early whenever a pacer breathes fire and it was evident during New Zealand. The top order simply fails to protect the offstump, execute the back foot shots and expose themselves easily against the pacers which ultimately let others cash in. If this problem persists, Bangladesh will have a torrid time in South Africa.
While playing against the spinners today, Bangladesh gave brain fade a new definition. Neither could I blame them for trusting the turn too much nor the condition of the track. But it was all about getting carried away too much and sacrificing their wickets in a disgraceful manner.
Consistency is a must while playing five-day matches and Bangladesh failed to be consistent with the bat when it mattered most.
For the first time, Bangladesh drew a Test series against Australia. It had been a great series for the betterment of Test cricket as this series gave us so many fascinating moments to relish. The Bangladesh Cricket Board deserves big thanks for finishing the series successfully despite so much chaos.
But it hurts when golden opportunities are missed. The story could have been different if the Tigers batted sensibly on Day 4.
Bangladesh should learn from their mistakes as early as possible before the South African tour.