How ready are the Tigers for The Hunt?

Bangladesh Ireland match in numbers Saleque Sufi

Team Tigers, in it’s ascending mission of world cricket hierarchy has spent over four weeks in acclimatization with wickets and conditions in different venues. They have completed training sessions in Sussex, played few preparatory matches and played three of the four matches of the Walton Tri – nations ODI series.

Having lost a match against depleted New Zealand and losing a point to host Ireland from a rain affected match, they have, now, an outside chance of winning the trophy.

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But for that, host Ireland has to beat New Zealand and Bangladesh has to win its’ last match against New Zealand. Irrespective of what will happen today in the match between Ireland and New Zealand, a win against New Zealand can still elevate Tigers to sixth in ICC ODI ranking.

Beyond this, Tigers’ main mission is Champions Trophy where they are grouped with host England, Australia and New Zealand. Before the tournament, Bangladesh will play warm up matches against Pakistan and India.

This write up is to review what Bangladesh has achieved so far of its preparation and how prepared they are for the bigger event? In general, one must agree that players have more or less acclimatized with the condition. Pace bowlers seem to be enjoying the pace, bounce and seaming conditions, batsmen are liking batting condition, fielders are not doing all that bad.

But judging from the matches so far Bangladesh played, it appears that something is missing from them in performing consistently. The killer punch is not yet in their grasp to transform possibilities and opportunities into success. Bangladesh should have scored above 280 in the match they lost against depleted New Zealand team.

This team needs a dasher, a finisher in the later order. Bangladesh lost a trick in not playing Nasir Hossain in Tri nation so far who has the reputation of a good finisher. Bangladesh need a batsman at number 8 or 9 who can tee off with a quick fire 25-30 runs in 10-12 deliveries . In tight matches against strong teams that matters.

Shakib and Mustafiz were not with the squad initially for their engagement with IPL franchises KKR and SRH. They did not play matches and were out of competitive cricket. Captain Mashrafe had to fly back home to stay beside his ailing wife and son. All three returned. Shakib and Mustafiz appeared in all three matches.

Mashrafe had to sit out one match for suspension due to slow over rates of the team in previous matches. Mustafiz and Mashrafe are back in tune while Shakib is still trying to find his feet. Prolific Tamim and sizzling Soumya have found their bearing. They are delivering their natural stroke plays in setting up good opening partnership.

Tamim played two good innings and so did Soumya. The third opener Imrul Kayes who is also in good touch did not get a match yet. Sabbir, a gifted stroke maker struggled in his first two matches in coping with moving deliveries. He looked pretty ordinary against Ireland in the first match and New Zealand.

However, against Ireland in the second match he showed glimpses of his sparkling form. But then again, he threw away his wicket unnecessarily trying one stroke too many. For success against stronger teams in testing conditions in Champions Trophy, any of the top three has to bat through and hold the innings together.

A quick 50-60 and getting out at crunch time may not serve the purpose. Few questions were genuinely raised whether Sabbir is a genuine number three batsman or not. Kayes or Mahmudullah can be better choice according to many.

This writer talked with Aminul Islam Bulbul and Mahbubur Rahman Selim now in Australia. Both agreed that number three is a very important position where the most technically equipped yet aggressive batsman must play. Sabbir’s stroke making can be better utilized at number 7 or 8.

If Bangladesh loose an early wicket then Sabbir cannot play in cool and consolidating manner. Bangladesh’s strength lies in very strong and competent middle order. Mushfiqur, Mahmudullah, Shakib and Mosaddek can not only consolidate a good start but also can set up a great platform for onslaught in the last 10-15 overs.

Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur are known for their top quality batting. Both rotates the strike and punishes loose deliveries. The two Ms have already played some important innings. Shakib can blast and take the match away from opposition with conventional and unconventional stroke play. He is not in full gear yet.

Young Mosaddek impressed all with his skill and temperament. He will gradually a dependable top order batting all-rounder as he bowls tight off spin as well.

Now comes a very tricky situation. Miraz proved himself to be a wicket taking bowling option in all format. But his main skill batting has not flourished yet. Nasir Hossain was taken in the squad for his proven all round ability has not been tried yet. His inclusion may benefit the team in many ways. He is a dasher in late order.

He can bowl few tight overs and he is a brilliant fielder. The other option is Sanjamul who looked good with his orthodox left arm spin on his debut. One must not write off Majestic Mashrafe for delivering killer punch any time. Whoever says what, on green top seaming condition Mashrafe still remains one the of top wicket taking options for Bangladesh.

Mystery boy Mustafiz appeared to have found his vintage form. He looked almost unplayable against Ireland in the second match. Rubel is bowling fast and accurate. Taskin and Shafiul and Subashis are sitting out.

At Oval against England and Australia Bangladesh may be in a dilemma of playing four seamers. But against English and Aussies, bowling attack Bangladesh should have additional batsman. Miraz will be the right choice against England. English batsmen may try to settle score against him as they repeatedly failed against him in the home series.

Before that situation arrives Bangladesh still has a game against New Zealand. If tigers can play to the potential I do not think beating the depleted Kiwi team is a huge issue.

No matter whether Bangladesh win the Walton Cup or not win against New Zealand will be a morale booster. Kayes and Nasir can be tried in two practice matches against Pakistan and India. Both have possibilities for striking success and that will create additional options for Bangladesh for Champions trophy.