SA v Ban

Published on October 2nd, 2017 | by Faisal Caesar

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Bangladesh remain mentally poor with the bat in fourth innings  

After four days of comatose cricket in Abu Dhabi, Test cricket unleashed its true colors on the final day. Obviously, one must thank Pakistan’s unpredictable nature for this thriller. Their top order melted under pressure while chasing 136 to win and whenever you give Rangana Herath the slightest of chances, he won’t let you relax at all. Sri Lanka laid the horrifying memories of home series against India to rest and registered a morale-boosting win.

In fact, this victory would mean a lot to Sri Lankan cricket whose going was tough for the last two years. When Yasir Shah set jitters in Sri Lankan batting lineup this morning, yet another humiliation was on the cards for the Islanders, but thankfully, an unpredictable Pakistan and a mercurial Herath glorified Test cricket – a much needed thriller for the best format of the game when a group of so-called modern thinkers of the game are barking about the death of Test cricket.

Before Sri Lanka’s historic victory, at Potchefstroom, a lot was expected from their South Asian friend, Bangladesh. The Potchefstroom track had a variable bounce, but it was, still good enough to bat on for those who wished to occupy the crease. Morne Morkel’s devastating spell did jolt Bangladesh top order, but what Bangladesh batsmen exhibited on the final day, redefined spineless performance.

With Morkel absent due to a thigh strain, it was expected, Kagiso Rabada would come out all guns blazing. Rabada kept the length short but he was far from being hostile like Morkel of Day 4. Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah Riyad were needed to see-off the first session only by spending time at the crease. Exhibiting composure rather than stupidity was the order of the day, but Rabada’s testing and not wicket-taking length created an impact on the mindset of Bangladesh batsmen.

Rabada’s delivery to Mushfiq was leaving him after landing on the deck. But why Mushfiq sparred at it, one could not understand. Mahmudullah, one of the best back foot players from Bangladesh, was in a dilemma whether to leave or play against a length ball. Had it been a bit fuller and possessed movement, one could’ve forgiven Mahmudullah for his dismissal, but it was a length ball and getting out played-on against such deliveries only indicate how pressurized the Bangladesh batsmen were!

The dismissals of Mahmudullah and Mushfiq became contagious. Liton Das, who gave hope in first innings with his back foot stroke-play, left a Rabada inswinger. It was a fuller delivery and curved back in – tough one to play, but definitely, it was not sensible enough to leave such devilish deliveries. Then Sabbir Rahman attempted an unnecessary sweep shot against a full and straight delivery from Keshav Maharaj. Bangladesh lost their seven wickets for 68 runs and since then, it has been just a mere formality for the home team.

Bangladesh’s such sort of implosion in the fourth innings are nothing new. At the start of this year, in New Zealand, they succumbed at Wellington and Christchurch, which was nothing but a circus show of throwing away wickets. It happened at Harare against a mediocre Zimbabwe attack in 2011 and the meek surrender against West Indies at Mirpur in 2012 on final day still hurts.

Time and again, Bangladesh batsmen found the going tough in fourth innings. It seemed, the historic win at Colombo might have buried the ghosts, but at Potchefstroom, one could realise, Bangladesh still have not learned from their past mistakes.

Batting in the fourth innings of a Test requires special abilities. It’s more about temperament. One of the best batsmen in history of Test cricket while batting in fourth innings had been Graeme Smith. He had his shortcomings as a southpaw, but whenever he was thrown the challenge of batting in fourth innings of a Test, even the best in the world failed to match his guts and determination. Smith showed how to travel through the crucial passages of a session by spending time at the crease rather than losing composure and playing wayward strokes.

The numbers say, Tamim Iqbal, averages 31.84, Mushfiq 41.02, Sabbir Rahman 63.50 and Mominul Haque 43.57 with the bat in fourth innings of a Test match. These numbers speak for itself. The top order of Bangladesh is not at all bad while batting in fourth innings, but on a regular basis, they are getting beaten by their own demons which is the fear of failure and inability to handle the pressure.

To succeed in Test cricket, performing in all the innings matters very much and when it comes to delivering in the fourth, it’s a must to stamp authority in the topsy-turvy world of Test cricket and for which, the batting unit needs to be mentally tough. Sadly, Bangladesh batters are not mentally tough while batting in fourth innings.

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About the Author

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Faisal Caesar is a doctor by profession and passionate cricket writer. He is the cricket editor of Cricketsoccer.



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