If there is one thing that is common between Bangladesh’s two seniors cricketers - Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal - regarding their cricketing philosophy, it is the mindset they carry about the game, and an attacking approach to their batting.
It was nothing different this time round in the two-match Test series against West Indies. The two senior batsmen played cricket their way and even managed to score runs but whether it was enough to serve the purpose of the team in the longer format?
Quite a few eyebrows were raised through the manner they got out in the series at different junctures of the game, when their presence could have made a lot of difference.
Bangladesh’s batting failure in the Test format is nothing new and as a result, their responsibility was doubled against West Indies considering that another senior cricketer - Mushfiqur Rahim - opted to skip the tour for performing Hajj.
In the opening Test, Shakib made 51 runs in the first innings to help his team reach the three-digit mark to avoid embarrassment and then 63 runs in the second innings to script a brilliant comeback along with Nurul Hasan. Just when he looked set in the second innings and was giving an impression that he was settling in, Shakib made the blunder of not curbing his aggressive mindset. The left-handed batsman gave away his wicket by hitting the Kemar Roach delivery that was pitched well outside the off-stump straight to the fielder and playing that stroke just when the second new ball was taken only suggested that he had wasted all his hard work.
While making back to back half-centuries was praiseworthy, it certainly did not have an impact similar to what was made by his opposite number in Kraigg Braithwaite, who laid the foundation of his team’s innings with his 94 runs of 274 balls.
What followed after the match only seems to reflect the sorry state of Bangladesh cricket as the new Test captain feels that it was the right way for him to bat even though head coach Russell Domingo feels otherwise.
Domingo told reporters after the end of the third day that he feels Shakib needs to understand that he has to find a balance between his attack and defence.
“Look Shakib is always going to play with good intent and we don’t want him to slog but play good cricket shots,” said Domingo.
'”He is good enough to get a hundred and he’s got to get hundreds, he is batting at number seven at the moment but surely he will bat at number six and top six batters got to get hundreds. So he’s got to find that balance between attack and defence,” added the South African.
In the second Test, Bangladesh came up with a better batting performance and Tamim in particular looked solid as ever, timing the ball at will and looked set to get a big score before getting out through a loose drive outside off. Bangladesh batting coach Jamie Siddons insisted that 40s and 50s were not good enough after the end of opening day’s play.
“We just need to bat longer. In Test cricket, you got to bat on for a long time. You got to be there at the end of the day and then we got to be batting on tomorrow. We are failing to do that at the moment. We are getting blokes that look more comfortable with the bounce that you get over here. Today I thought Tamim, Liton looked fantastic but 50s and 40s are not going to give you enough runs. So those sorts of players need to go on when they get their start,” said Siddons.
Tamim too recognised that he was to blame for the dismissal.
“Whenever I get a start like this in Test cricket, my innings turns out to be a big one and it’s unfortunate that I could not make it big. I could have easily left the ball and perhaps the ball got up more than expected and so it touched the sticker of my bat. I don’t want to give any excuse that it did not happen because of this and that, but as a senior member of the team I should have carried on after getting such a start and certainly there is no excuse for it,” Tamim said after the innings.
While Tamim had a chance to make amends in the second innings, he fell again chasing a delivery and becoming Kemar Roach’s 250th Test wicket.