Bowlers deserve recognition amid fumbles

Bangladesh lost five catches, missed a breakout chance, did not review a call that might have suited them, and an advantage went unheard. And that’s only in the early innings of the Windies. The opponent’s top hitter got three reprieves. Despite all this, without much luck or support from the defenders, Bangladesh put up a remarkable bowling performance and had West Indies sent off for 265. It was the second-lowest total in the first innings of one team (excluding Zimbabwe) conceded by Bangladesh outside Asia.

What would have happened if Bangladesh had seized even half of those chances? When you fail miserably with the bat, you need to convert half chances to full chances. Land and awareness remain Bangladesh’s perennial problems that need to be addressed quickly.

But now let’s talk about the bowlers and how they pulled off a brilliant bowling performance against all odds.

Bangladesh were without Taskin Ahmed, their top fast bowler, and Shoriful Islam. This forced them to bring back Mustafizur Rahman who is not even in the list of yearly test contracts. Mustafizur’s last test before this game was a year and a half ago and he hasn’t even played a first-class game in that time. The warm-up game where he netted five overs was his only red ball stint before the game.

But the ‘reluctant’ Mustafizur was Bangladesh’s best bowler on day one. It was he who obtained the first wicket of the West Indies by returning John Campbell. But he didn’t appreciate the backing of luck as three catches were taken away from him. The left arm seamer maintained a tight line and length and had a save rate of just 1.7.

Khaled Ahmed opened the bowl with Mustafizur and was also accurate and the pair didn’t let the West Indies openers open the account in the first five overs. The right-arm tailor was impressive in South Africa earlier this year and this time around he knocked out the hosts’ top scorers – Kraigg Brathwaite and Jermaine Blackwood. He was seen talking to fast bowling coach Allan Donald at the boundary line and it was refreshing to watch him try new variations like knuckleball and cutter even in that format to fool batters.

Ebadot Hossain was the most impressive of the three setters, especially on day two. He is the fastest bowler in Bangladesh and when he succeeds it becomes a problem for the hitters. He struggled to stay thrifty in recent Test matches, but in this test he showed great control and maturity. The graphs showed that the ball traveled 0.8 degrees when thrown on the grassy areas of the pitch, compared to 0.4° when thrown on the bare areas. Ebadot consistently landed the ball on these grassy areas and was able to extract more advantages than the other setters. Ian Bishop, on air, praised Ebadot for it. He got two wickets but could easily have gotten three had someone heard the outside edge.

Skipper Shakib Al Hasan knocked Bangladesh off the mark on day two when his beautiful arm ball went through Nkrumah Bonner who had absolutely no answer to it. But it was Mehidy Hasan Miraz who turned the game upside down just before the tea break.

Miraz has already brought out Kyle Mayers three times in international cricket and Shakib brought him in immediately after Mayers came out at bat. It was a match-up and the move paid off as Miraz took him out almost the same as last time.

Then he fired Joshua Da Silva and Alzarri Joseph almost the same way he drifted the ball. And the final wicket of the West Indies was quite rightly taken by Miraz. It’s a happy comeback for the jack-of-all-trades (4/59) after recovering from injury.

“I think the pitch was a bit slower. It was the right decision to hit the same area continuously. I then decided to focus on bowling balls. I opted for wickets during my first two spells. Then I decided I thought that if I could maintain a saving rate of two and a half, the wickets would come and that’s what happened, “said Miraz during the conference of press at the end of the day.

In Bangladesh’s last six away Tests, including the current one, they’ve gotten the opponent eight times in 10 innings, suggesting a marked improvement in bowling, but it’s the stick and the pitch that need of a big overhaul to start winning tests.