High time for batsmen

With a team composed largely of batsmen out of form, Bangladesh will face an uphill task to draw some blood in the so far disappointing campaign when they meet a buoyant Pakistan in the first Test of the two-match series at the Zohur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium (ZACS) today.
Ahead of the Test series the chief question doing the rounds was: can the home batsmen discover the trick of handling the formidable Pakistan bowling attack?
Bangladesh’s batting was simply pathetic in the one-off T20 and the subsequent three-match one-day series, rendered helpless against the versatile Pakistan spin attack. The Pakistani bowlers have used the condition so brilliantly that the ‘home advantage’ has been all but nullified for Mushfiqur Rahim’s men. That may be the reason that there was hardly any interest about the character of the pitch batsmen at the ZACS before the first Test gets underway. Instead, the main concern is whether the local batsmen can apply themselves properly or not.
Self-confidence among the Tigers is low. There is not much to do for the top order but to back themselves and believe that they have the basics to survive the tourists’ onslaught in a form of the game that will impose far greater demands than the limited-over variety.
“It’s actually time for the batsmen to show something because our bowling and fielding was not bad in the series [the one-off T20 and three-match ODI series],” admitted Shahriar Nafees while talking to the reporters after the training session yesterday in a pre-match press conference.
There was no logic but still the team think-tank made some changes but the question is; can the changes in the top order bring any luck for the Tigers? The local boy Nazimuddin is all set to make his Test debut while the ‘in and out’ Mohammad Ashraful will also feature in the eleven in the hope that the experienced batsman will make the most of yet another opportunity to lend the top order some solidity.
The home team however will desperately look to the under-pressure Tamim Iqbal for a solid start. The left-handed opener might have disappointed his supporters in the limited-over leg of the series, but he can take inspiration from his record this year as the Chittagonian is the highest run-scorer in Test cricket for Bangladesh with Shakib Al Hasan, who shone with the leather but needs to shine with the bat also in the Test series, following him. Naeem Islam has been suffering from fever and went back to Dhaka while the second seamer’s spot is still uncertain, with pacers Shahadat Hossain, Nazmul Hossain and Robiul Islam jostling for the opportunity to share the new ball with Rubel Hossain.
There is a saying that it’s always nice to take inspiration from the happy past when going through tough times. Bangladesh, however, have hardly any happy memories against Pakistan since they were elevated into the elite club, especially in the longer-version game as they lost all six previous Tests against them. But still they can recall their last meeting in Multan in September 2003 where they narrowly missed a chance in the one-wicket defeat. More importantly, they also can take heart from their last Test match in Chittagong when Mushfiqur’s men enjoyed the upper hand in the drawn match against West Indies in which, crucially, the batsmen were among the runs.
“Test cricket is totally different from T20 and one-day matches. The boys are confident about a good showing in the Test series because here in the longer-version game you will get the opportunity to rectify your mistakes. We also can draw inspiration from our last match against Pakistan although it happened long ago,” said a confident Nafees.
Where this confidence comes from may to outsiders be a source of wonder. Nafees even declared that they will play the match with the target of a win. “Bangladesh always bounce back strongly when they fall in dire state,” said the optimistic left-hander.
The country’s cricket lovers will probably not hope for something as big as a win against this formidable Pakistan side, considering Bangladesh’s record in Test cricket but they would love to see their team be competitive and play decent and smart cricket.
Not much more can be asked of the Tigers at the moment.

-With The Daily Star input

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