Bangladesh pace attack must be a bit relieved following their performance against Zimbabwe in the opening game of the tri-nation ODI series at Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka Monday. Bangladesh started with two spinners in the shape of Shakib al Hasan and Sanjamul Islam and got immediate dividends with Shakib picking up two wickets in his first over.
But the Bangladesh pace attack, led by veteran Mashrafe bin Mortaza, backed the spinners well, sharing five wickets among themselves as Zimbabwe were restricted to 170 runs in 49 overs.
The most pleasant thing was to see left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman coming back from injury and bag two wickets conceding 29 runs in 10 overs. The Bangladesh bowler had incurred an ankle injury ahead of Bangladesh’s first ODI during their South Africa tour.
Mustafizur first dismissed Brendan Taylor as the experienced Zimbabwe batsman tried in vain to reconcile his side from the early losses. The Satkhira lad later dismissed Zimbabwe debutant Blessing Muzarabani to wrap up the innings.
Mashrafe earlier removed opener Hamilton Masakadza for 15 while right-arm paceman Rubel Hossain picked up the wickets of middle-order batsman Peter Moor and lower-order batter Tendai Chetara.
One can argue that the wickets taken by the home side’s pacers were not crucial in the context of the game and that the key role was played by the spinners to get Bangladesh off to a brilliant start in the series. But the contribution by the pacers can’t be overlooked, given the contrast it has with the recent past.
The Tigers pace attack had come into the new year backed by below-par performances in year 2017, despite playing in seamer-friendly conditions like New Zealand, England and South Africa. Bangladesh, who depended heavily on their spin attack recently, saw the pacers make a fair share of contribution for the team in the past three years or so. But last year, the graph had a steep decline, putting the think-tank in concern.
Former Bangladesh captain Khaled Mahmud, who took charge of the national team as technical director after the sudden departure of Chandika Hathurusingha, had put the Bangladesh pacers in a different schedule when the cricketers first reported for the national camp in January.
Mahmud ahead of the series had mentioned of the work done with the fast bowlers and that the group need to step up from doing small things right.
The performance against Zimbabwe might come as premature praise but on the contrary, given the recent past, the effort can be the start of better things to come.