In absence of frequent traditional Indo Pakistan cricket derby for regional geo politics, Bangladesh –India cricket crusade is now developing into traditional international contest like Ashes or Trans- Tasman war. Off course Bangladesh ranks far below India in ICC ranking in all formats of the game- test, T20 and ODI.
Bangladesh has not played that much of test cricket against India after graduation to the top level. India did not consider Bangladesh a challenging opponent for drawing capacity crowd in tests played in their backyard; neither have they toured Bangladesh too often for playing Bangladesh. However, in ODI and T20 whether bilateral, regional or international contest Bangladesh has either won matches or took the matches to the wire before conceding.
It is true for national team, age group team and women cricket. We are not sure whether it is lack of mental toughness or a feeling of inferior complex that leads team from the land of Royal Bengal tigers losing matches in bubble tight contests or India surviving by the skin of the teeth. On the backdrop of above Bangladesh cricket team would soon visit India for playing tests as part of ICC test championship and T20 series for preparing themselves for the ICC world T20 contests scheduled for Australia in 2020.
India is now a very formidable cricket team and is looking to dominate all formats of cricket for the depth and diversity in the team. They appear to have “Horses for the Courses “in all formats. Bangladesh on the other hand still remains almost exclusively on their talented experienced top four or five. That group of skilled and experienced players is ageing. Whenever one or two of them produce spectacular performance Bangladesh win or look competitive, when not they look pretty ordinary. In recent times since CWC 2019 Bangladesh played very poorly against Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. BCB overhauled the cricket coaching units, controversy and scandals surfaced about some cricket officials.
In matters of cricket infrastructures, in country first class cricket ambience and atmosphere Bangladesh stands nowhere. India for very organized domestic cricket, regional contests, IPL and planned aged group maturing has wealth of talents. Bangladesh has very poor domestic cricket, inadequate training facilities, poor long term planning and vision. In this situation for a cricket analyst having opportunity of knowing professional cricket infrastructure it is really embarrassing to even imagine the struggle of Bangladesh team that awaits them in the up coming two matches test series in India. Against very strong all round cricket ability of India in tests in their backyard the challenge for the team tigers would be very intense.
What Can Bangladesh Do?
The first and foremost responsibility of BCB must be not creating hypes about the series. BCB President is not required talking too much about individual players, team selectors and probable performance of the team in India. Let selectors and team management deal with these. There must be a team manager who is articulate, presentable and pleasing personality. Apart from excellent management flair the manager must have admirable cricket background and he/ she must be non controversial among cricket community.
We have seen in recent times players performing consistently well in longer version of cricket in domestic circuit are being constantly ignored. There are reasons that domestic cricket can not be compared with international contests. Low slow dead surfaces make players scoring tons of runs. Wickets and conditions never favor quality pace bowling or wrist spin. Such players while given opportunities infrequently fail to live up to expectation. Even then if BCB could be more patient with Mohammad Ashtabula, ImrulKayes, ShahriarNafis , Tushar Imran , Naeem , Razzak and some other senior players Bangladesh could have a much better test team by now.
If Bangladesh could produce some green top bouncy wickets giving opportunities for players like Taskin ,Rubel, Mustafiz, Ebadat , Al Amin , Jayed , Shafiul and others bending their back without risking injuries Bangladesh could have by now a good enough pace attack. Why Bangladesh could not find and grow quality leg spinners and unorthodox left arm spinner in so many years? BCB is hiring high sounding international coaches ignoring quality local coaches. Why there is no one creating contest for Tamim, Shakib ,Mushfique and Mahmudullah ? Why Mashrafee thinks he has to carry on playing despite of his bruised and battered legs? Why Mushfique has to continue delivering his role from in front and behind the wicket so long? In any matter none remains indispensible forever? Till the above matters are not addressed professionally Bangladesh even after cricketing spinning traps in home series may not win tests against any other team. We can not expect winning tests abroad against any team over the next 3-4 years.
What Bangladesh Can Expect In India?
India in test cricket at home and abroad appears to be getting stronger and stronger; the team has word class batsmen in top, middle order and even in the tail. They have now some very high quality pace bowlers and as usual top of the world spin attack. In recent times India is fielding much more smartly as well. Bangladesh on the other hand failed to find an ideal pair or openers even after making too many experiments with too many players .TamimIqbal still remains the undisputed best option. But frequent changing and chopping his partners have failed creating stability .ImrulKayes proved his ideal foil and could settle for a long haul. But BCB mismanaged the talent so far.
Among the new players Sadman and Liton appear to have good future ahead of them. Liton can bat at number six or seven as well giving depth to the batting order. Bangladesh has definitely failed to mature highly talented MominulHaq. With proper nursing Mominul could emerge as Rahul Dravid, Joe Root or Ken Williamson now at number three in ODI and tests. Bangladesh possesses world class batting resource at four, five and six in test in Mushfique, Shakib and Mahmudullah. In test MehedyMiraj definitely deserves a place now as quality all rounder and the same can be told about Mohammad Saifuddin .Taizul Islam in Indian condition can be useful wicket taking option in tests. Now about the pace attack Bangladesh has to have very careful thinking. A reluctant Mustafiz needs mentoring. There must be a reason why Taskin is having frequent injuries .Shafiul when fit has consistency. Ebadat and Rahishould improve with the nursing of New South African bowling legend.
Few experienced players at least for test cricket must be given due attention. There is no reason why Mohammad Ashraful can not be included in test squad again if he is match fit. He is one in Bangladesh for whom we can definitely say, “Form is temporary but class is permanent.” We believe Mohammad Ashraful still has good four to five years left of quality international cricket. ShahriarNafees, Naeem andTushar Imran if fit can have closer looks . It is ok that Mosaddeq ,Mithun are players for the future . But players making tons of runs in domestic cricket must not find their windows closed for ever so soon.
What Cricket Admirers Can Expect?
All say and believe that cricket is a game of glorious uncertainty . But when you compare players by players on the basis of quality, current form Bangladesh stands nowhere in comparison with India in test cricket. Moreover, the series is going to be played in India. We have to have hopes against . But realistically it will be extremely challenging for Bangladesh for creating any contest. Bangladesh can not put together a bowling unit capable for taking 20 Indian wickets. Neither have they had batsmen surviving quality Indian attack for taking tests deep into fourth or fifth day. But even then who knows. One or few extraordinary individual performance can cause surprise. Miracles do happen in cricket. Looking forward to an interesting not intriguing test series.
But cricket admirers must keep in mind that it will be an uneven contest .
BDST: 1301 HRS, OCT 12, 2019