• Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
  • Last Update : 12:20 pm

Of series wins and false hopes

  • Published at 08:02 pm September 11th, 2021
Shakib
Bangladesh's Shakib al Hasan is livid after his dismissal against New Zealand in the fourth T20I in Mirpur Wednesday AFP

These series wins which were achieved on unsporting and sluggish pitches raise questions regarding the 'proper' preparation process for the upcoming T20 World Cup

The mission is complete.

Bangladesh have won the T20I series against the Trans-Tasman cricketing powerhouses, both Australia and New Zealand, at the home ground.

The last 10 T20Is within the last six weeks state that Bangladesh have won seven matches out of 10, four against the Aussies and three against the Kiwis.

The numbers indicate that this was a fascinating achievement, doesn't it?

Despite the fact that Australia arrived with a depleted team (without their star players in the batting line-up) and New Zealand came with a completely B-string team, both the results will be considered major success for Bangladesh cricket.

But these series wins which were achieved on unsporting and sluggish pitches raise questions regarding the “proper" preparation process for the upcoming T20 World Cup. 

In their home turfs, England often produce seaming wickets, Kiwis dish up greenish wickets, and India prepare dusty wickets, which sees the ball turn even on the first day of a Test.

But these kind of wickets or so-called "home advantage" are usually applicable for Test matches.

Mohammad Naim is cleaned up during the third T20I Sunday AFP

In limited-over cricket, to be more precise, in T20 cricket, you don’t often see wickets which are greenish or dusty as part of “home advantage.”

T20 cricket is all about excitement. 

Scoring 110 or 120 from 120 deliveries, or bowling out opponents for around 60-70 and chasing down that target playing 18-19 overs are not T20 cricket.

If that happens once or twice in a five-match series, that can be termed as a bad day in the office.

But if the whole series takes place in that fashion, then it’s not “T20 cricket”.

All the three teams have struggled with the bat, and even to score boundaries, in these 10 matches, except the last game.

The average first innings total in the Bangladesh-Australia series was 121, and the average second innings total 103.

And in the New Zealand series, the average first innings total was 116 and the average second innings total 100!

Now coming to the point of the T20 World Cup preparation, playing 10 matches just before the mega event against oppositions like Australia and New Zealand looked perfect for Bangladesh.

But after playing on these kind of wickets, the preparation looks inappropriate.

With that being told, the players are saying repeatedly that "winning habit" is important, or that winning gives you confidence.

But these kind of wins on a minefield type of wicket to dismiss your opposition for 60, 70 or 90 would not give you perfect confidence.

If Bangladesh had defeated Australia on a wicket which is "good" for T20 cricket, like chasing down 180 to win, or restricting the opponents within 150 while defending a 170-run total, that could have given the cricketers proper confidence and much needed boost as a player or as a team.

It's not only that Australia and New Zealand batsmen have suffered, Bangladesh batters too had a torrid time on these wickets.

If one looks at the stats of Bangladesh batsmen in these two series, all the local batsmen, who know Mirpur wicket well and played at this venue for years, also struggled.

From a batting perspective what has Bangladesh actually achieved from these 10 matches?

Afif Hossain looks back at the shattered stumps after getting bowled out in the third T20I AFP

Soumya Sarkar continued his patchy form and looked completely clueless, Liton Das looked ordinary, Mushfiqur Rahim appeared out-of-sorts completely, Shakib al Hasan was out of touch, Mohammad Naim batted too slowly at the top-order.

Will these things help Bangladesh in the upcoming T20 World Cup?

Only a glimpse of Afif Hossian’s brilliance and Mahmudullah’s few run-a-ball type innings are the highlights from a batting point of view, but are they enough?

Only two fifty-plus innings were scored (one from Mahmudullah and one from Mitchell Marsh) in the entire Bangladesh-Australia series, and one half-century (Tom Latham) in the Bangladesh-New Zealand series showed just how much the batsmen found it difficult.

Imagine a match situation in the T20 World Cup where Bangladesh need 50-odd runs from four overs, against a quality opposition bowler like Jasprit Bumrah or Shaheen Shah Afridi or Rashid Khan or Trent Boult.

Will the middle-order, let's say Nurul Hasan or Afif or Shamim Hossain, win the match for the team from that situation?

Particularly after playing the last 10 T20Is on such wickets where 110 or 120 runs were a winning score?

Stats suggest Bangladesh have won against mighty Australia and New Zealand, and that’s obviously historical.

And to be honest, Bangladesh needed these wins in the sense that these victories will provide rating points in the ICC rankings, which will help the Tigers to qualify directly for the T20 World Cup in 2022.

But considering that the T20 World Cup is knocking at the door, these kind of results can produce a false impression.

Before the 2011 World Cup, Bangladesh had defeated New Zealand 4-0 in ODIs in similar kind of tricky home conditions.

Those results, and the “Banglawash” hype, created a kind of false dawn and overconfidence on the part of the Tigers.

As a consequence, Bangladesh were all out for 58 in front of their home crowd in Mirpur against the West Indies in the 2011 World Cup, and were later dismissed for 78 against South Africa, also in Mirpur. 

Despite winning against England in that tournament in Chittagong, being all out for 58 and 78 on home turf were two of the most embarrassing performances for Bangladesh in their recent ODI history.

Let’s hope history does not repeat itself this time around.

Winning seven matches against Australia and New Zealand can slightly give confidence to the team, but if we are banking too much on these two series wins, then the Tigers can suffer another embarrassing situation in the upcoming T20 World Cup, probably getting all out for less than 100 again.

And that can happen as, just to remind you, just four months ago Bangladesh did not even manage to bat the full 10 overs against New Zealand in a rain-affected curtailed T20I.

They were bowled out for just 76 in 9.3 overs.

Do you think New Zealand too took “home advantage” there, by applying a greenish and unplayable pitch?

Then look at the first innings total of that match.

The Kiwis scored 141 on that track in the first innings losing just four wickets.

So Tigers beware, none of the matches in the T20 World Cup will be played in Mirpur.

The challenges will be huge and you need to be ready for that.

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