‘Opportunity lost’

Game can change at any moment: Nasir

Saleque Sufi

Bangladesh got a very rare opportunity of playing Australia in any format of cricket bilaterally. Since becoming ICC full member country this was only the third bilateral series and the second home series that took place between Bangladesh and Australia.

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In two earlier series Bangladesh digested innings defeat in two Tests. This time the long awaited Test series came after lots of parleys and behind the scene discussion. Once the security issue became acceptable the internal disputes almost put the tour on suspended animation.

But last minute meeting of minds between Cricket Australia (CA) and Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) rescued the series. Australia came, appeared in two Tests, lost one and won one. The very exciting series ended 1-1.

Some very partisan cricket admirers may think Bangladesh should have earned series white wash or at least a series win. But more knowledgeable persons would accept drawn series as the fair result. But a cricket analyst would say it is a case of opportunity lost for Bangladesh.

Bangladesh won the very hard fought first Test in Dhaka marginally by 21 runs. Australia strongly bounced back winning the second Test in Chittagong by 7 wickets. Bangladesh had their moments in the second Test also. But poor match planning and lack of applications of players at important time let the opportunities slip from their grasp.

Australia is too good a team making same mistakes twice. Warner and Lloyd proved as thorn for Bangladesh.

August and September are not the most ideal months for playing cricket in Bangladesh. It is very hot and humid. Very often heavy rain for days together make cricket impossible. Even this year it rained almost regularly in the form of deluge in Dhaka and Chittagong only days approaching each Test. But once cricket started rain stayed away.

The wicket at the Sher-e –Bangladesh started turning square from the very first session of the first day after Bangladesh winning the toss and elected to bat. Bangladesh managed 260 runs in the first innings mainly from a very high quality 155 runs fifth wicket partnership between Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan after being reduced to 10/3 by 4th over.

Shakib and Mehedi combined well, gaining 43 runs first innings lead on a wicket turning square and jumping up and down. Even Bangladesh could not score that 221 second time in the second innings.

Tamim played another good innings. Australia was chasing well riding on skills of two seasoned pros David Warner and Steven Smith. Prime Minister came to the ground on day four. Bangladesh presented her a very exciting Test winn after Warner got out scorning a high quality century.

Shakib had another 5 wickets haul. 10 wickets in the match and a half century in the same Test earned him yet another feather to his crown.

With this historic win and Australia caught on a turning track few started dreaming of a series white wash. But Australia is too great a team to lay flat on the floor. Three spinners were included for Chittagong Test in anticipation of yet another turning wicket.

Each individual Bangladeshi player were critically analyzed and planned made against. That is why when Mushfiqur Rahim decided to bat again on a flat wicket Bangladesh again ran into trouble early on.

Talented Lyon had four LBWs with straight deliveries. However, Mushfiqur and Sabbir presented a quality partnership helped Bangladesh reach 305 in the first innings. Many thought Bangladesh was at least 50 runs short of what could be a safe score.

It was very hot and humid in Chittagong. Yet Warner and Handscomb batted superbly. They were also generously assisted by very poor Bangladesh bowling and fielding on day three. Warner was dropped few times and at least 4 catches were dropped, some of them were too easy once.

Finally Australia got a very crucial 72 runs first innings lead. Batting second time on day four, Bangladesh collapsed dramatically in the first session. 5 Wickets went down very cheaply.

The memory of early day’s spineless batting flashed back. Mushfiqur, Sabbir, Mominul tried to give some resistance. But the damage had been already done. Lyon got 12 wickets in the match and 22 in two Tests.

Australia won the Test by 7 wickets and squared the series.

We are not sure when again Bangladesh would have another opportunity of winning a Test series against strong Australia. This young side will mature and next time they would come better prepared.