Sports, Cricket

Bangladesh unsure about Test philosophy

Published : 09 May 2022 10:19 PM | Updated : 10 May 2022 03:31 PM

That wonderful win five months ago is hard to forget. It is evidence of their progress, of believing in the fact that they can win abroad, that too against the world Test champions. The dismal showing against spin in South Africa last month, on the back of their maiden ODI series victory there, has brought down the house on them. There is confusion and concern.

Bangladesh are caught between wanting to back their pace attack, which has done very well for them recently, and trusting spin, which has given them mixed results even at home. Injuries to Taskin Ahmed and Shoriful Islam mean that Ebadot Hossain and Khaled Ahmed have to step up again, but that isn't a problem. Both fast bowlers have shown a lot of improvement.

What is really alarming is the indecisiveness in their batting. Defend or attack? Which is right? Which is better? How Bangladesh answer that question may well determine how this series against Sri Lanka goes. Fortunately, the first Test is in Chattogram, considered the country's best batting pitch.

Bangladesh’s yo-yoing from the high of New Zealand and the low of South Africa isn’t just a case of one step forward, two steps back. The tentativeness in their game is actually understandable when you consider the sheer level of scrutiny they are under. With a passionate fan following, attentive media and an intrusive cricket board to deal with, they don't have the luxury of getting away with anything.

This team is now preparing for its most important Test series this year. They are playing Sri Lanka, whom they consider equals in Test cricket, in a home series. Recent results however suggest Bangladesh still have some ground to make up.

Bangladesh’s fast bowling has come a long way in a short time. As recently as September 2019, they went into a Test with Soumya Sarkar as their lone seamer. But now, Taskin has come on in leaps and bounds. Shoriful is a breath of fresh air. And Ebadot, well he became the first Bangladesh pacer in nine years to take a Test five-for.

Despite injury concerns, Taskin and Shoriful continued to bowl well in South Africa, while Ebadot kept getting better at keeping the runs down. Mehidy too has grown as a cricketer in these five months, but there ends Bangladesh's individual improvement.

The batting is unsettled. Concern begins at the top as captain Mominul's struggle for runs continues into a third Test series. There doesn't seem to be any specific technical errors but he has had huge trouble getting starts, having got out for single-digits nine times in the last 12 innings.

Bangladesh have tried six openers in these six Tests, with only Joy scoring more than 200 runs. Shadman Islam has been woeful in his five appearances, eventually losing his place when Tamim returned to the Test side in South Africa.

Only Litton has really stood out among all the batters, scoring 501 runs at an average of 45.54, with two hundreds and two fifties. Najmul Hossain Shanto, Mushfiqur Rahim and Yasir have averaged in the twenties, while Mominul lurks at 15.

The return of Tamim and Shakib against Sri Lanka will boost the batting line-up but Bangladesh are looking for more than that. They want to build a Test team that can stand up on its own, with the likes of Litton, Joy, Yasir, Mehidy and Taskin at the forefront. Tamim, Shakib and Mushfiqur won't be around forever. It's time for the next generation to take the lead.

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