The five month break which seemed like five years is finally coming to an end for Bangladesh Cricket. The break stretches even more for the local supporters as the last home series ended in December, 2012. Having said that, it is somewhat surprising to see the excitement from the fan base is not as high as it should be. To be fair, it has been quite a murky year for Bangladeshi cricket fans. Honestly, one would have to be a bit more than optimistic to expect something positive for our cricket at this point. With everything going down the curve for us, this fixture becomes more crucial than any other tour. Each and everyone associated with this tour whether it is players, coach, management have a point to prove.
Frankly this tour already has a question mark with the weather around the country continue to be very unpleasant. It would be quite a miracle if we get to enjoy all the matches to its maximum. Although other than the weather, the players really have nothing to complain about. The tigers got a much extended break which allowed the ones injured to revive, the ones out of form to turn around and most importantly to prepare an attack the opponent cannot defend.
So far with the team selection, there is the indication that there will be no risk taking but the “play it safe” spin based attack. This is perfectly fine and that’s how it should be for home games. It was pleasing to see that for once the squad was selected according to the format and not recent form of any format. What was even more surprising is that there was no mercy factor for the experienced ones. Players like Nafees, Shahadat failed to retain their slots while the performers like Marshall, Naeem, Al Amin and Razzak are finally getting their reward for hard work and consistency. In short, this is a well-balanced squad and it would be safe to say that this is probably the best squad we have seen in a long time. This is no advantage since the Kiwis are also sending their best possible squad to avoid the humiliation from last time. True, their bowling attack is lacking a solid spinner like Vettori which is more essential in these conditions. However, they have a great batting attack consisting of Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum, Hamish Rutherford, Peter Fulton, Watling and few more. There are players like Doug Bracewall, Kane Williamson that will cause problems both with the bat and the bowl. Bangladeshi side will particularly have to watch out of for these two allrounders as they can cause some serious damage.
Success of a team is driven by a good strategy. For Bangladesh, the strategy is as simple as it gets. Occupy the crease and take 20 wickets. There is nothing more to that. Sadly, in thirteen years of cricket, our players failed to do achieve both of those targets in a single match. The Kiwi side will be vulnerable against the spin attack. But neither the spinners nor the seamers can relax at this. The spinners must accept it as their responsibility to take majority of the 20 wickets. On the other hand, the seamers have to aid the spinners by creating pressure.
So often this happens in Bangladesh test matches, that the opposition uses the seamers to make up for the lack of runs. This allows the batsmen to relax when the spinners are in operation. The seamers cannot only focus on taking wickets but also keep the economy low. There is no easier solution than creating pressure by restricting runs. Sadly, this strategy has always been applied against our batsmen and unfortunately it always works! Usually the core group of players are the ones that make the difference between a win or loss and right now, The Bangla fans have enough to worry about with our cores struggling to find form. Shakib, our most important player has been running around playing T20 cricket for so long that it is questionable whether he will be able to adapt with the longer format. His batting form is something to be seriously worried about.
On top of that, his techniques in the longer format are somewhat wayward. Than we have Tamim who is still struggling to establish a pace in which he would like to score. He is not someone that has the kind of stamina to occupy the crease for long nor can he contain his onslaught once he gets started. Mushfiq, perhaps the best batsman we have failed to stand out during DPL. Nasir is probably the only one from the core group that has some kind of an upward curve. In terms of bowling, Razzak is back in the squad and perhaps he will have to be the one to steer our bowling ship as rest of the attack is still either inexperienced or out of touch.
Regardless of the home condition, preparation and fitness, the odds do not change for Bangladesh on paper. With a decline of interest from the fan base, Bangladesh team has no option but produce something spectacular. The tigers better be ready or they could very well be slaughtered. Even by the Kiwis!