Shannon Gabriel was furious, but the footwork of Bangladesh’s experienced campaigners was not good……
The fury of Big Shannon Gabriel is nothing new to Bangladesh. A few months back, at Antigua, on Day 3, Gabriel packed-off Bangladesh cheaply to finish things off within three days. Jason Holder overshadowed Gabriel and Kemar Roach in the second outing at Jamaica, but Gabriel was the name of terror for the Bangladeshi batsmen. Bangladesh were expecting the same at Chottogram and after tea, the big boy was breathing fire like an angry dragon.
Mominul Haque was at his pristine best in a venue where he announced his arrival with a counterattacking 181 against New Zealand five years ago. Beautiful drives and well-timed punches of the little man left the spectators spell-bound until he decided to poke at a delivery, which was moving away from him at pace, without using his feet. Shane Dowrich caught the ball safely and the visitors breathed a sigh of relief to see the end of Mominul.
Two balls later, the little Mushfiqur Rahim decided to move forward at a Gabriel delivery, which was coming in and ended up being trapped lbw. Wrong use of footwork was evident and it was repeated by Mahmudullah Riyad in Gabriel’s next over.
Another fast delivery beat the dust, posed a threat to rip through Riyad’s defence and ultimately it did breach his defence as, like Mushfiq, his initial movement was on the front foot rather than back. Then the skipper, Shakib Al Hasan, committed the same mistake by attempting to punch one off the front foot and left a gap between bat and pad – the ball, delivered from an angle round the wicket, zipped in to kiss the edge first and then disturb the woodwork.
All of a sudden, the nightmare at Antigua started to show its ugly face at Chottogram.
216 for 3 became 235 for 7 and it seemed all the hard works would be wasted.
But the young guns of Bangladesh were in no intention to bat with paralyzed-feet. While the experienced and senior batters of Bangladesh were quite paraplegic against the pace and fury of Gabriel, the likes of Mehidy Hasan Miraz, Taijul Islam and the young debutante Nayeem Hasan were blessed with a better motor function of the lower limb.
In the 67th over of the day, Gabriel dished out a ferocious short-ball, which would have left the best batsmen at bay, Miraz went on the back foot quickly, shifted his balance a bit on the offstump and executed a hook shot – if any shot could describe boldness in today’s cricket, then it was that hook shot. You just don’t witness hook shots these days – or, many are not brave enough to play it. But Miraz showed, he is a cricketer of a different category – always eager to improve technically and temperamentally.
The tail-enders like Taijul and Naim would also exhibit the initial trigger movement on the back foot rather than front, which allowed them to go behind the line of the delivery earlier. Their defence was solid and at times, executed some brilliant strokes, which ultimately dragged Bangladesh out of the mess. The young boy Nayeem deserves a lot of accolades for displaying the tough temperament in his very first Test. He was unfazed the deceptive pace of West Indian fast bowlers and his batting technique and foot movement against pace are better than an Imrul Kayes or a Mahmudullah Riyad. The boy has hit the jackpot at first hand.
Anyhow, the matter is all about footwork. Your footwork will help you to survive against pace bowlers. Neither a paraplegic foot nor the initial movement of the front foot would help a batsman to counter pace bowling, but the ability to get on the back foot would. The initial trigger movement of the back foot not only helps to get behind the line of the ball, but it aids to get on top of the bounce as well.
The majority of the deliveries of Shannon Gabriel were either from the back-of-a-length or good-length, which zipped off the surface and nipped back in against right-handers and moved away from the lefties. Had Mominul, Mushfiq or Riyad was using their feet with authority, Gabriel might not have unleashed fear in that eventful post-tea session.
Kudos to the courage and technique of Bangladesh tail, they were able to post a fighting total on Day 1 with two wickets in hand, still.