Friday, March 22, 2019

Bangladesh's performance in Afghan series shows lack of preparation

  • Ariful Islam Rony
    Published: 2018-06-09 12:19:48 BdST


Before Bangladesh began its series against Afghanistan, there were concerns about the Tigers. At the end of the series it is evident that those concerns were justified. But now we have to consider - what if the Bangladesh team was never prepared to take on the underdogs?

Questions circled the series since the start. What was supposed to be a one-day series, a logical decision before 2019 World Cup, but was suddenly changed to a T20 series. The reasoning was also strange.

"We play fewer T20 matches, therefore we decided to play T20s instead," said the BCB president.

However, the T20 World Cup is quite a ways off, scheduled a year and a half after the ODI World Cup.

Bangladesh faced a significant challenge as it is still not a strong  T20 team, while Afghanistan is on firmer footing in the format, ranking two steps above Bangladesh.

Therefore, the team needed to prepare both mentally and technically. But it was obvious from the Afghanistan series that the Tigers had failed to do either.

The first delivery of the series showed their uncertainty as Tamim Iqbal switched from a sweep to a block on the first ball from Mujib and lost his wicket.

Shakib Al Hasan was restless at the crease and Mushfiqur Rahim lost his wicket in a similar manner. Mushfiq attempted a reverse sweep against Rashid, a tough shot against someone with that quick arm action and speed. Perhaps he was attempting to scare off Rashid at the start, but the plan simply backfired.

Such was the case throughout the series. Bangladesh was doing well in the first 10 overs in the second match but soon changed their tune when Rashid came into the attack. Nobody could halt the trickling away of wickets, as the team succumbed to confusion. 

With Mujib breaking in the new ball and Rashid closing out the end, Bangladesh’s hesitancy remained into the third match.

Technical skill could have could have calmed the team’s nerves. If the basics of bat and ball were solid, the anxiety would eventually be managed. But instead, faults only exacerbated the situation. Mistakes fed into nerves. It could also be that the nerves stemmed from a lack of technical preparation.

Tamim, Shakib and the team seemed annoyed by the talk around Rashid and Mujib before the start of the series. Perhaps there were reasonable justification for their stance, but the team should have handled it with professionalism and prepared properly.

Every match showed a lack of 'homework' by Bangladesh team. There was no evidence of proper planning for managing the Afghan’s spin attack or to limit their power hitting.

Rashid, Mujib and the experience Nabi, made the Bangladesh team suffer at bat in all three matches. There was no solution or even an effort to find one. The lack of ‘homework’ was most apparent among the new batsmen who came down to face Rashid.

He often bowled a speedy googly as the first delivery to a new batsman - a difficult ball to play for any one, especially someone new to the crease. But the delivery could have been studied and the necessary precautions taken. But was it? 

Bangladesh team did not bowl well either. Mohammad Shahzad gave Afghanistan a good start in all three matches. He is an aggressive batsman, but also has his technical deficiencies. His shots are limited and he only plays his best when the deliveries are in his power zone. But Bangladesh failed to exploit his shortcomings, simply bowling straight to that zone.

Bowlers in Bangladesh teams looked helpless when Shafiqullah stormed through the innings and Rubel and Abu Zayed seemed clueless as to where to bowl.

The team’s regular chief coach has been absent for the last four months. Courtney Walsh was declared as acting chief coach only the day before leaving home. His performance as chief coach has been a matter of concern. Therefore, it is not abnormal to lack proper preparation.

On the other hand, it may be that the series against Afghanistan was not given enough importance.

Whatever the reasons, all Bangladesh’s questions from the beginning to end of the series can be blamed on a simple factor – haphazard preparation!