Sunday, May 19, 2024

After Murali, it’s Price

Azad Majumder

Zimbabwean all-rounder Ray Price (L) jumps into the air to celebrate after scoring the winning runs against Bangladesh at the Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Monday. — Sanaul Haque
Zimbabwean all-rounder Ray Price (L) jumps into the air to celebrate after scoring the winning runs against Bangladesh at the Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Monday. — Sanaul Haque

The lack of penetrating bowler at the death coupled with the poor thinking of captain Mohammad Ashraful left Bangladesh in an anguish of conceding a second heartbreaking two-wicket defeat in four days, this time against Zimbabwe on Monday.
Defending an even poorer total than what Bangladesh had scored against Sri Lanka, the bowlers again took Bangladesh close to a win but failed to clean up the tail of Zimbabwe, who raced to 127-8 with four balls to spare.
After recording his career best bowling figure of 4-22 that left Bangladesh all out for 124 runs, left-arm spinner Raymond Price steered the visitors home with his career best unbeaten 23.
Ashraful had bowled his deputy Mashrafee at a stretch for 10 overs in which he conceded only 21 runs for his three wickets and the skipper also did not bother to keep a few more overs of Sakib to bowl at the death.
Sakib had taken three wickets for nine runs in his first seven overs and when he was called again to finish his quota, there was no one like Mashrafee from the other end to continue the pressure.
Mahmudullah Riyad could be an option, but surprisingly the skipper did not use him although the bowler had conceded only seven runs in his first six overs. Riyad had given Bangladesh a vital breakthrough just when Zimbabwe appeared to be regrouping and it was naturally expected that he would continue his bowling.
Ashraful instead kept his faith in young Rubel Hossian and paid the price as the teenager failed to keep his composure in the crucial moment and gave away some valuable runs.
Rubel, who had conceded 33 runs in his last two overs against Sri Lanka, did a little better this time and also earned a breakthrough when he had Prosper Utseya caught by Ashraful for 21 to leave at Zimbabwe 98-8, but it was not enough.
When he was called to bowl during the second power play, Rubel delivered a couple of no-balls and pitched the ball outside the leg-stump that raced away a four off the batsman’s pad and thus reducing the asking run-rate significantly.
It left Zimbabwe needing only six runs in the final over and two successive boundaries by Price sealed the deal.
Price earlier shared seven wickets with Keith Dabengwa to help Zimbabwe restrict Bangladesh to their third lowest ever total against Zimbabwe after electing to bat first after winnings the toss.
A damp pitch and cloudy overhead conditions provided Zimbabwe’s pacers with lots of movement in the morning, making it difficult for the Bangladesh batsmen to score.
Opening bowler Edward Rainsford, who conceded only five runs in his first six overs, earned the tourists their first breakthrough, trapping opener Junaed Siddique in front for three.
Worse was still to come for Bangladesh as they lost the other opener, Tamim Iqbal, and skipper Mohammad Ashraful with 31 runs on board. Tamim scored 13 off 55 balls while Ashraful took 18 balls for his four.
Roqibul Hassan struck Price for two boundaries off successive balls before giving the spinner his first wicket in the next ball, a return catch for 28, the top score for Bangladesh.
After Price had ripped through the middle-order Dabengwa mopped up the tail taking 3-15, also his career best bowling figure.


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