Bangladesh pay a price for complacency


Seeing Mohammad Saifuddin training hard at the Bangladesh Cricket Board Academy ground on Wednesday anyone may get an impression that a change is imminent in the Bangladesh squad for second Test against Zimbabwe at Mirpur.
The Tigers got a hammering in the first Test in Sylhet, which they lost by 151 runs, so a drastic measure to bounce back from the defeat was not completely unexpected going by the recent history of the team.
But, speaking to reporters after his individual training session, Saifuddin dismissed the idea, saying that he was only preparing for the upcoming series against West Indies, who would arrive at the end of this month.
In the hindsight, Saifuddin revealed a fact that many identified as one of the reasons for Bangladesh’s humiliating defeat in the first Test against Zimbabwe in Sylhet. Even before taking the field against Zimbabwe, Bangladesh were actually preparing for West Indies, something that they never wanted to hide.
In his pre-Test press conference in Sylhet, stand-in Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah clearly said his main focus was on the series against West Indies, believed to be Bangladesh’s closest rivals in Test arena now.
Bangladesh took Zimbabwe almost for granted, especially after their 3-0 win in the one-day international series, when the visitors were barely able to compete.
The team’s thinking about Zimbabwe series was also reflected in the squad for the first Test, which missed the name of Mustafizur Rahman, who should have been one of first few names in the team-sheet otherwise.
On the first day of the Test, selector Habibul Bashar confirmed New Age Mustafiz had no injury and that the team preserved him for the second Test considering his future workload.
In the absence of all-rounder Sakib al Hasan and opening batsman Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh were expected to play the game with their other regular fit players, but they clearly did not do it in this case.
Few may argue that Bangladesh have lost the game in Sylhet for their batting failure, not because of the absence of their most potent pace bowler, but it would not say the full truth.
Despite their awkward batting in both innings, it can be safely argued that they are still a better side than Zimbabwe batting-wise. What Bangladesh missed in Sylhet was rather a desire and hunger for win.
The team was completely oblivious of the fact they were unable to make 200 runs in Tests and a defeat of this nature was long coming for them. Before playing a ball, they believed Zimbabwe series was already in their bag, so they could always focus on West Indies series.
With their every shot, especially in the first innings, the batsmen showed they were not fully focused in the game. Even after going down 19-4, no batsman really cared to dig deep and make a partnership.
They were in a similar situation in the first one-day international in Dhaka before they survived somehow, thanks to a magical innings of Imrul Kayes. Batsmen believed someone like Imrul would stand up again to bail them out from this precarious situation but in reality no one took any responsibility.
And they paid a big price for this careless attitude.
Prior to the Test match, Bangladesh coach Steve Rhodes gave an interesting explanation about their recent dismissal of 43 runs in a Test innings against West Indies in Antigua.
‘In Antigua, if we had 11 Ricky Pontings, we might have scratched a 100,’ Rhodes had said.
After trailing Zimbabwe by 139 runs in the first innings in Sylhet, it was difficult to guess how many Pontings they had required to overturn the deficit.