The devastating defeat Bangladesh suffered against India in the first Test in Indore on Saturday once again exposed the yawning gap between the standards of the two sides in all departments in the longest format of the game that constitutes the supreme test of the players’ skill and temperament. The disparity would only widen they go to the second and final test of the series in Kolkata on November 22.
India are the no one ranked side in ICC’s test team ranking and Bangladesh languishing at number nine just above Afghanistan.
The Indore match did not produce a competitive game and looked like a one-sided exhibition match reflecting India’s overwhelming superiority and Bangladesh’s mediocrity in tests.
Savour some examples of the chasm between the two teams. The combined aggregate of Bangladesh’s first-innings score and runs scored by their top order in the second — 150 and—does not even match Indian opener Mayank Agarwal’s 243.
On the bowling front, Bangladesh could manage just six Indian wickets. Four of Bangladesh bowlers sent down 89 overs between them for just two Indian wickets. In their first innings, pacemen Ebadat Hossain and Abu Jayed and spinners Taijul Islam and Mehidy Hasan Miraz conceded more than 100 runs each. For India, the three fast bowlers Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami gave away only 94 runs between them.
But the full measure of abject capitulation by Bangladesh cannot be gauzed by mere statistics. Their openers Shadman Islam and Imrul Kayes lacked the technical skill to play the opening swinging ball and Bangladesh top and middle-order were devoid of the patience and temperament to build a long innings brick by brick, particularly when things are not going their way. This was what shown by Mayank and Indian test vice captain Ajinkya Rahane after the cheap dismissals of Rohit Sharma and skipper Virat Kohli.
The failure of Shadman and Imrul in Indore raised the prospect of the Bangladesh side faring even worse in the second Test in Kolkata, which is just five days away, when they would be facing the pink ball for the first time. The openers failed to cover the line of Indian bowlers nor did they try to read the swing or seam movement.
Bangladesh’s senior-most batsmen Mominul Haque, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah did show shades of Test temperament but they don’t have it in them to be the team’s anchor when in crisis and play long innings. The absence of Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal thrust the responsibility on Mominul, Mushy and Mahmudullah but they failed miserably to step up.
Bangladesh’s highest scorer in Indore Mushfiqur is good only when because Shakib and Tamim are not there. It would be foolish to expect Mushfiqur to alone carry Bangladesh in test and his efforts can only supplement what a Shakib or a Tamim century could do.
The worst sight in Indore was Bangladesh tail-ender batsmen Tajul Islam and Abu Jayed moving away from Indian pacemen or nervously hopping about the popping crease, something Indian tailenders used to do at the heydays of the fearsome West Indian fast bowlers of 1970s and 80s. Mind you, this is at a time when many teams have depth in their batting line-ups
It is now increasingly clear that Bangladesh might be a misfit in tests—a status they got 19 years ago--and the easier and shorter format could be a more viable option for them.
Bangladesh’s awful performance in Indore, where the test was part of ICC’s World Test Championship should be a matter of concern not only for their fans, new coach Russel Domingo or the Bangladesh Cricket Board still reeling after the latest corruption scandal involving Shakib, their biggest star, but also for the International Cricket Council (ICC) trying to revive falling popular interest in the longest format of the game to generate more money from it.
India with 300 points and six wins from as many games in the World Test Championship so far is at the top of the table while Bangladesh are yet to get a point. New Zealand are in the second spot with 240 points.
Bangladesh must seriously introspect on their test-playing ability and cannot just wait for Shakib to return and pull them out of the abyss. Suspension from all forms of competitive cricket will keep Shakib away from the game for a year which is a long time in such a highly-competitive sport like cricket.
But given the talent-deficit in the current Bangladesh side, it will be difficult to find a replacement for Shakib. That may be good news for the player personally but bad for Bangladesh.