At the end of yesterday’s 65-run defeat at the hands of the West Indies, Alok Kapali said that there’s a lot of optimism for the Tigers in the series proper, despite a lot of shoddy batting.
In front of a 7,000-strong holiday crowd at the Fatullah Cricket Stadium, Kapali was one of only two performers for the BCB XI. He took two wickets in an economical spell of leg-spin before top-scoring with 41 off 56 balls.
But the Sylhet-born cricketer believed that winning against the West Indies wasn’t unattainable.
“We are used to playing in Mirpur. We believe that we play to win. I think we have more chance of winning in that case,” was his optimistic summary.
“Most of our spinners didn’t play today. Since we did well against their batsmen today, the likes of Shakib [Al Hasan], [Mahmudullah] Riyad and [Abdur Razzak] Raj would do even better I believe,” explained Kapali.
One would definitely agree with his justification. Kapali himself was the best bowler on show, picking off two wickets with his sliders as the tourists floundered between two extremes: caution and ambition.
With the exception of Darren Sammy and Denesh Ramdin, the rest of the youngsters struggled to pace their innings, five of whom gave catches to long-on and long-off to the spinners.
Naeem Islam, Nasir Hossain and Mohammad Ashraful also had fruitful outings with the ball but when one looks at their shot-selection later in the day, Kapali’s optimism becomes tenuous.
Apart from Junaed Siddiqui, six of the batsmen are part of the 18-member squad announced for the Twenty20 and ODI series, but none fought to a half-century, let alone dominated the opposition attack.
The handling of the short ball should be Stuart Law’s prime concern. None of them looked comfortable whenever the ball was banged in with three batsmen Shuvogoto Hom Chowdhury, Naeem Islam and Nasir Hossain getting out on the pull.
Mohammad Ashraful, meanwhile, made a flourishing start only to give it away although he did look to be struggling around the time of his dismissal.
The stern warning was from the only genuine fast bowler on show Rampaul. He picked up four wickets, but more importantly used the short ball to good effect.
“I try to be aggressive as a fast bowler. The ball was coming on the pitch. I tend to use all my fire on the wicket,” said the T&T fast bowler, who agreed that it was a plan of attack for the visitors.
“We know that [weakness against short bowling] as well. If the wicket doesn’t assist the bowlers, you can’t bowl the short ball. We tend to use it a lot, and it’ll continue to work for us. The wicket was nice for bowling actually,” said Rampaul.
Another challenge he faced was to deal with the two new white balls, an aspect that even some great fast bowlers have not welcomed in the past.
“I think it keeps the ball a lot newer, playing with two balls. It slides on the wicket a little more. So it’s probably a good thing for the bowlers, not the batters.
“The two new balls rule out the chance of reverse swing. But it will swing a lot more in the opening overs. One has to be patient enough and hit the right line and length, there will be rewards,” he added.
When asked if cricket is now more favored to the batsmen, Rampaul said, “I think it’s fair, because of the amount of Powerplay that they [batsmen] have. I agree with it [the new rules].”
But the BCB XI batsmen wouldn’t agree. Specially with Kemar Roach still up the visitors’ sleeve.
-With The Daily Star input