Vol. 5 Num 1061 Sun. May 27, 2007  

grameenphone TEST SERIES
A collective non-effort

A batsman who scored a first-ball duck had to appear at the press meet yesterday to say all about his side's lacklustre efforts in the second and final Test. It was of course Bangladesh vice-captain Mohammad Ashraful.

The ace right-hander at least could claim that he showed the courage in facing all the uncomfortable questions from the reporters when his captain Habibul Bashar, for the second successive day, escaped to save his blushes.

While everybody were eagerly trying to know of Bashar's version about his outrageous decision to field first, the 34-year old skipper preferred to throw in his deputy into the heat giving him an impression of the tough times that are ahead. And what came from the future Bangladesh captain was all contradictory.

"Their bowlers did an excellent job but our defence was also poor," was the explanation of his team's top-order collapse.

Although he dismissed that fatigue was behind the disaster, the ace right-hander however admitted that they learned another lesson of how tough Test cricket is.

"It is just another lesson for us that anything can happen in Test cricket," observed Ashraful.

What happened on the second day of the final Test at the Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium yesterday was not unexpected after Bangladesh think-tank's brainless decision of not batting first at the tailor-made pitch in hot and humid conditions.

India buried the home side under a mountain of runs (610-3dec) and then as expected, got the exhausted Bangladesh top-order out in the middle wanting to ensure that the Tigers had experienced their worst possible time in their return to Test cricket after 13 months.

After having fielded for almost two days under extreme heat, the local boys looked completely out of sorts when Rahul Dravid asked them to bat the remaining one and half hour and the result was the recurrence of a nightmare.

Soon after the lunch session, Bangladesh fielders had their hands on hips and there after they lost four wickets inside three overs to finish the day on 58-5, as they were heading for a disaster.

So, only a miracle can salvage a devastated Habibul Bashar, who gave another example of his lack of confidence by making four runs, and his men facing a possible embarrassing defeat in the series deciding second and final Test match.

The first two days proceedings so far gave the indication of how outgoing coach Dav Whatmore is leaving behind his legacy on the Test team.

Under his guidance Bangladesh is all set to suffer their 13th innings defeats in 27 Tests.

But what will be fresh in everybody's mind is that how a coach of his stature made a gross mistake in his last appearance with the Tigers by taking the decision of fielding first on a placid surface which ultimately killed any chance of a fight in the second Test after a rain-hit draw in Chittagong.

Undoubtedly, the ultimate blame should go to captain but everybody knows how a coach like him can play a big role in a team like Bangladesh.

NOWHERE TO HIDE: Bangladesh captain Habibul Bashar (C) walks back to the dressing room after he was out for just four runs on the second day of the second Test at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday. PHOTO: Anisur Rahman