Pace is gentle enough

March 23, 2012

Don’t measure Bangladesh’s bowling performance by only focusing on the final over of the innings. Shahadat Hossain conceded 19 diabolical runs off the 50th over to give Pakistan a shred of momentum they dearly required towards the end of their innings in the Asia Cup final at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium yesterday. It is an aberration; in fact his entire spell should be taken afar from the heroic tasks completed in the tournament by the more serious campaigners.
Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Abdur Razzak and Shakib Al Hasan decided that a final’s day performance has to be A-class and the three men conceded 113 runs from their 30 overs to pick up six wickets. If it were a performance by one bowler in a Test match, Bangladesh would have actually considered a win, but more to the point, it gave the Tigers an excellent platform.
The Narail Express has given a remarkable account of his fitness and rehabilitation that has gone on for almost a year after he underwent knee surgery in Australia in April last year. In four games, he returned to the Mashrafe of old, bowling tight, keeping batsmen honest to their footwork and making sure the dressing-room is bubbly. He finishes the tournament with six wickets after his two in the final, removing Nasir Jamshed with a nice slower ball early in the piece before picking the dangerous Umar Gul in his last spell.
Razzak’s performance has also been a tribute to his focus after being sidelined from the Test squad. He took a bucket of wickets in first-class cricket and remained steady in the Dhaka Premier League as well as the BPL T20s. Some had suggested that this could have been the final chance for the Khulna-born left-arm spinner as the season has thrown up several contenders for his position in the team. But he has prevailed, four good shows out of four. He finished with two wickets as well, bowling some of his most disciplined spells by going for just 2.6 in ten overs. Shakib meanwhile has been quite erratic at times with the ball, not really his best against India or Sri Lanka. But he has bowled well against Pakistan in the first game and repeated that performance by taking two wickets.
Nazmul too bowled well until he fell over in his eighth over, twisting his ankle while trying to bowl a slower one to Umar Akmal in the 28th over. Mahmudullah Riyad however was left unused, bowling just three overs to take the wicket of Akmal by strangling him down the leg-side.
Shahadat however has been lucky to play all four games despite his first day three-wicket haul. His 0-81 against India was swept under the carpet due to the fine work by the two senior men while his spells against Sri Lanka should have urged a rethink on the part of the team management. But two new balls from each end have given him the edge, though his use of the newer ball hasn’t been up to the mark.
As far as bowling is concerned, the think-tank must be pleased as the base is set for a proper attack for the near future. It is time to think forward so the new crop of steady pace bowlers should be tried alongside Mashrafe, Nazmul and Shafiul Islam while the left-arm spinners across the country can rest for a while.

-With The Daily Star input

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