“Bangladesh need to utilise the confidence gained at Hamilton and this Bangladesh unit is capable of delivering their best”
For a cricketer, it is very important to have a vision and without a vision, his performance will lack purpose and direction. A cricketer needs to believe in his vision as because self-belief and values provide the energy and discipline to drive towards the desired goal.
Self-belief is similar to the roots of a tree for a cricketer. Without self-belief, a cricketer would fall down. Now, to materialize the vision requires a perfect plan – how a cricketer organizes himself and execute to make his vision a reality, is another important aspect of achieving success at the highest level.
Hard work, courage and learning from your mistakes are the most important ingredients, without which neither a vision nor a plan would bore fruits. In cricket the value of a tough temperament is huge. I repeat, a bold mind has helped to overcome technical insufficiencies on many occasions.
As for example in 1980, in the first Test against West Indies at Lahore, Pakistan were struggling at 95 for 5. It was up to Pakistan’s bowling all-rounder Imran Khan to sort things out. At that point of time, Imran was a better bowler than batsman. But a decade of struggle has taught him how to fight against the best and for him, mistakes have always been the best teacher. Against the likes of Malcolm Marshall, Sylvester Clarke, Colin Croft and Joel Garner; Imran went on to script his first Test hundred.
Clarke had troubled Imran a lot but his ability to get back quickly on the back foot and courage to face the barrage of short-pitch bowling helped him to salvage Pakistan’s pride. Imran worked hard on his batting technique as a County cricketer and whenever he failed with the bat, he would always spend enough time in the nets to improve his technique. He had a vision and self-belief to be the best and thus executed his plans accordingly through sheer hard work.
One could witness a fine exhibition of hard work and courage at Hamilton on Day 4 as well. All was doom and gloom in the morning with Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner fresh to hunt for the prey; an early capitulation of Bangladesh batsmen was expected. The overnight not out batsmen of Bangladesh, Mahmudullah Riyad and Soumya Sarkar did show enough courage to weather the storm at the fag end of Day 3, but whether they would be able to carry the same on fourth day remained a moot question.
A fight was much needed from Bangladesh to boost the morale of team. The responsibility was more on Mahmudullah to lead from the front as the stand-in captain. He has always been the most underrated customer and contributed heavily whenever the chips were down.
Mahmudullah delivered yet again!
In the first innings, he was dismissed while executing a poor shot against the harmless bouncer of Wagner, but he would not commit the same mistake in second. He was well enough focused and saw-off the good deliveries in morning session. His plan was to spend as much time as possible in the middle and not let the opposition take upper hand.
He ducked against the short-pitch deliveries keeping his wrist down, left the good ones as much as possible and jumped to get on top of the bounce, but never played any silly shots.
He said, “When we were batting at the first hour, we were thinking of not giving our wicket away easily. We wanted to survive that period yesterday. They bowled well in different phases. Wagner consistently tried back-of-a-length bouncers. Southee and Bolt tried to find swing with the new ball. I think maybe that is their main procedure. Maybe they try to get the edge with the new ball before going to the short stuff with the older ball”.
The patience of spending time paid off. As soon as Mahmudullah adapted to the situation, he flayed some jaw-dropping shots against Wagner and Boult. It was a great exhibition of back foot stroke-play for which Bangladesh are not renowned for. What more does a cricket romantic need when someone like Mahmdullah creams Boult through the covers off the back foot and hooks Wagner with authority for sixes.
Mahmudullah’s shot selection was much more calculative than Soumya, but when he decided to smash, he did it with disdain.
Meanwhile, Soumya was all about counterattack. He was provided with the perfect support from Riyad at the other end to flex his muscles. Soumya’s timing was a treat for the eyes. And his back-and-across movement against New Zealand pacers, who changed angles while pitching it short – helped him to murder the attack mercilessly. Even if Soumya was not in full control while playing Wagner’s bouncers, still he had the courage and confidence to crush him out of the park.
He took just 94 balls to reach his ton – the joint quickest by a Bangladesh batsman alongside Tamim Iqbal and his partnership of 235 runs for fifth wicket with Mahmudullah is expected to prove instrumental in upcoming Test matches.
Mahmudullah and Soumya had a clear vision and the plan to execute that. They put a price tag on their wickets and did not want to surrender easily. The tough temperament was evident throughout their knocks of 146 and 149.
“I think to succeed, you have to play tough cricket in Tests because at times there will be good spells from both ends and it’s important to understand these things. We took the easy option in the first innings and went for shots and got out. A few of our batsmen fell to the same kind of shots. For the second innings, I decided not to let things go easily. I wanted to suffer and take blows on the body but still give myself a chance,” Mahmudullah said.
Mahmudullah and Soumya have sown the seed of confidence among the boys, who found the going tough and even the Bangladesh captain stated boldly, “Our batsmen have gained an idea regarding these things and hopefully we can keep these things in mind for the second Test”.
Bangladesh need to utilise the confidence gained at Hamilton and this Bangladesh unit is capable of delivering their best.