• Thursday, March 05, 2015

In search of a new hero

Sports Reporter

It's been eight months since Bangladesh last tasted a win in one-day cricket. Truth be told, very few could have predicted the treacherous slide that the Tigers have gone through ever since their dramatic four-wicket victory over New Zealand in Fatullah last winter.
In a rare occurrence, the Tigers chased down 307 without any help from their most-sought after batsmen. Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal did not feature in that game, while captain Mushfiqur Rahim was caught at square-leg after scoring just two runs.
Following that win, which also sealed Bangladesh's second whitewash over the Kiwis, an emotional Mushfiqur told the media that that was a team filled with many heroes.
"I don't have to worry if I lose my wicket. I know that there's always someone to stand up for the team. That's the speciality of this team," a resolute Mushfiqur told reporters.
Eight months on and the so called 'special' feature of his team has turned out to be its worst problem. With roughly two weeks to go before the Tigers land in the Caribbean to battle against the likes of Chris Gayle and Sunil Narine in their own backyard, the most worrying factor is that almost none of the Tigers are in form.
Apart from the captain himself, who has maintained a steady average of 50.12 this year, the rest of the crew seems to be on a soul-searching mission. Opener Tamim has just scored four runs in the two ODIs he has played this year; both against India. His average of eight in the second round of the ICC World Twenty20 does not help his cause either.
Young Mominul Haque has been Bangladesh's saviour in Test cricket a number of times in the last two years. He has a much better performance chart than Tamim this year with three half-centuries in ODIs. But his recent performance in the West Indies with the Bangladesh A team however was disappointing and it was a factor that led the selectors to choose Mithun Ali ahead of the left-hander in the last two ODIs against India last month.

The repercussions have spread to the lower middle-order as well with both Nasir Hossain and Mahmudullah Riyad, averaging 20.83 and 12.83 respectively, being far from their best this year. The problem only grows deeper with Shakib not there in the middle.
The spin-bowling front is witnessing a similar downfall. The country's highest wicket-taker Abdur Razzak has been criticised for his performance this year. In six games in 2014 Razzak averages a disappointing 109. Mominul, who has bowled almost as many overs as Razzak seemed a more stable slow left-armer with an average of 31.66 this year.
In desperate situations like these, teams often need a new hero to lift the overall performance. Young Taskin Ahmed almost stitched a comeback for the Tigers with a five-wicket haul on debut against India and the Tigers will be banking on him again in the ODIs. It could even go on to be Imrul Kayes's turn to shine with a series of good performances this year, including a century in the recent tour of the Caribbean.
Whoever it may be, come this August at the West Indies -- their last foreign tour before the World Cup next year -- the Tigers need to revive; for time is running out.

Published: 12:00 am Sunday, July 27, 2014

TAGS: Shakib Al Hasan Tamim Iqbal New Zealand Fatullah four-wicket victory

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