Infants no more…B’desh need to pull up their socks



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Bangladesh really need to get a move on. How long can they expect to be treated like infants in Test cricket?

Not to say that they have set all the other versions ablaze, but at least there have been sporadic noteworthy performances in the one-dayers. But when it comes to the five day format, well…the lesser said the better.

In fact, the outrage generated by Virender Sehwag’s comments about Bangladesh being an ‘ordinary Test side’ was baffling, to say the least.

What did they expect to hear? That Gautam Gambhir, after hundreds against the likes of Brett Lees and Mitchell Johnsons, at Napier as well as in Nagpur, is losing his sleep over the prospect of facing the new ball from ‘The Shahadat Hossain’! Laxman and Tendulkar are sweating it out at the nets to prepare to counter the guile of a Shakib Al Hasan?

Bowling coach Eric Simmons has been especially SOSed to Bangladesh to aid bowlers in distress and fathom ways to beat through the defence of Mohammad Ashraful, whose batting average after 51 Tests, by the way, is a whopping 3.35 higher than that of Amit Mishra.

Or maybe that he (Sehwag) was losing hair over devising strategies to halt the Bangladeshi juggernaut, fresh from victory over a club level West Indian side!

The reaction of Bangladesh media as well as the players did seem a tad amateurish. They, over the next five days, vindicated Sehwag’s stand. And the way second Test is headed, Sehwag’s statement may just be underlined.

Harsh as it may sound, Bangladesh, more than a decade since their debut (or 62 Tests), are a side that is very ordinary in Tests, incapable of producing sustained quality displays with bat or with ball, twice in a match.

At best they can unsettle the opposition, like they did in the Chittagong Test, first innings, (bowling India out for 243 must be the stuff the Lankan dreams are made off), or go down fighting, like in their second innings (Mushfiqur Rahim’s gritty 101 seemed more like the final splinter of a fire-cracker before it went bust).

So the manner of Bangladesh resembled that of an adult not only refusing to grow-up, but also throwing tantrums when treated like one. Critics might argue that it took India 20 years to record their first ever Test win, but those were in a simply different era.

It’s not just the 53 defeats, but the fact that they have achieved ‘the feat of picking 20 wickets’ in a Test match only 4 times yet- twice against the Zimbabweans, and, as many times against the depleted West Indians last year.

The problem with Bangladesh churning up mediocre performances is that they belie their abilities

In Nafees, Tamim, Shakib, Madmullah etc, they have seeds of what can be a very competitive outfit. The sparks of brilliance are evident in all their cricketers, but then, a spark may win you an odd ODI, it’s the mental ability that often lets you down.

What Bangladesh need is a change in their approach to the game. Every expert worth his microphone has been yelling from the roof top that Test matches are won by winning sessions…and the days.

In the Chittagong Test, the impression one got was the team was satisfied with just running India close on a few occasions. The just didn’t seem to understand that not too many teams would have tasted a defeat, a resounding one at that, after having bowled out India for 243. In Mirpur, batting first after winning the toss, they were five down by the first hour.

And this has been their script more often than not, every time they have trudged out in white flannels. Recklessness is a luxury that Bangladesh can ill-afford. They have been the damp squibs of the gone by decade.

Do they have it in them to pull through?