Shakib Al Hasan rediscovers his mojo, but it was not enough to create an impact as Bangladesh repeat the dismal show with the bat…..
Shakib Al Hasan, the Bangladesh skipper, pitched the first of ninth over on a length from wide of the crease at the fag end of Day 2. The delivery was well-flighted and had enough pace to break the stubborn defence of Kraigg Brathwaite. It was a typical Shakib-dismissal, which he is habituated to deliver when he is at his pristine best. That delivery was nothing, but a message to his critics, the best player from Bangladesh is all set to rediscover his lost mojo.
And, on Day 3, Shakib was all over the West Indian batting lineup. He simply ran through the home team’s middle-order. The length, which Shakib bowls more is a tad full and pulls it back to flummox the batters. Devon Smith was undone by yet another well-flighted delivery on the back-of-a-length to drag him forward only to be dismissed via stumping. Then Keemo Paul was outfoxed by similar length and flight. Kireon Powell tried to arrest a collapse, but Shakib dished out his speciality, the quicker one, which trapped Powell plumb in front.
The best all-rounder in the world was in a killer-mood and it was contagious. Men like Abu Jayed, Taijul Islam and Mehidy Hasan joined the party to set jitters in the West Indies batting lineup. When Jason Holder left the scene, West Indies were reeling at 124 for 8 and the risk of the wagging of Caribbean tail was in the mind of Bangladesh Test skipper, and thus, he returned to polish off the tail and bag a six-wicket haul.
Even though, West Indies were skittled out for 129 in their second innings, but Bangladesh’s poor batting display helped them to take a handy lead. The visitors were left to chase 335 runs on a track, which was not an unplayable one.
Sadly, the response of Bangladesh batters remained the same. They came out to bat and neither showed the intent nor the attitude to play a Test match. Shakib shone with the bat by scripting a half-century, while the rest surrendered meekly as the Test ended within three days.
While speaking about Bangladesh’s poor display with the bat, Tamim Iqbal said after the match, “We only have ourselves to blame. Our batting was not up to the mark. We were playing on difficult wickets but these were not unplayable. There were exceptional deliveries but it wasn’t so bad that we couldn’t get 200 in any innings. Even today, we weren’t going to make 330 or 340 but it was a really good wicket to bat on. If we could have been in the contest longer, it would have been an interesting game”.
The numbers suggest none of the Bangladesh batsmen could notch up a hundred in four innings and their overall batting average in this series had been a pathetic 12.60, which is the lowest ever for Tigers. They had starts, but none from the top could convert them into big ones – criteria, which is very much needed in five-day matches.
The idea of playing Liton Das as the opener could not be understood. He is not an opener and there should have been an ideal replacement for Imrul Kayes. And, it’s not the first time that Kayes got injured while facing quality pace bowling. It happened in New Zealand and it happened in the West Indies as well, which only hints about the mental-and-technical-fragility of this guy.
Liton suits very well at number six or seven in Tests as his role is the keeper, while Mushfiqur Rahim at number four or five. If Mushfiq has been relieved from his wicketkeeping duties to concentrate on his batting in Test matches, why was he batting at six, remains a moot question!
Then the question remains about Mahmudullah’s batting position as well. In an interview three years ago, immediately after the ICC Wolrd Cup, he expressed, how batting at number four changed his game. But it seemed, in the Test series, he was playing more as a floater. We don’t see a floater in five-day matches, do we? Ideally, Mahmudullah should have come at four, Mushfiq at five, Shakib at six and Liton at seven. But, throughout the Test, I always felt, Bangladesh were not sure about their batting positions!
With Liton opening the innings, made the way for a young lad named Nurul Hasan as the wicketkeeper, who hit the headlines for his misbehaviour in Sri Lanka and is a much-hyped cricketer among some of the local sports reporter. Behind the wickets, he was sloppy and with the bat, except one lucky strike at Antigua, he could not cash in, which proves yet again, how badly the selection of Bangladesh is affected by hype rather than logic. It is only because of this hype by local media, Bangladesh cricket is struggling right now.
Nurul Hasan is still not prepared for Test cricket and needs to do a lot of hard work to prepare himself for the longer version. Of course, the young man should also get the hype-factor out of his mind.
It was also a pity to watch some shambolic display from two most experienced campaigners of Bangladesh – Mahmudullah Riyad and Mominul Haque. Mahmudullah and Haque made 19 and 16 runs in the series respectively, which hurt the visitors big time. Both of them were fragile technically and were left clueless in the middle.
Lastly, there is no shame in losing a match, but when a team loses a match without exhibiting any fighting spirit and repeating the mistakes, it cannot be appreciated at all. When a team keep on fighting even under pressure, they can script the best of results. The best example is Chandika Hathurusingha’s Sri Lanka. At least, the Tigers could have a pep-talk with their past master.