Batting experiment backfires

Bangladesh management’s experimentation with the batting order of the national cricket team nearly backfired against Zimbabwe in the second one-day international at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium on Sunday. Though the experiment had little impact on the result it was about to bring a catastrophe despite a formidable start in the game. Opener Tamim Iqbal and Anamul Haque put up 158 runs in their opening stand before the experiment saw the Tigers collapsed to lose six wickets for 46 runs putting them in danger of being dismissed in the range of 230 runs. It only showed the management’s impatience and lack of belief in their own judgment and the outcome only left the country’s cricket fraternity flabbergasted seeing the unexpected change in the batting order backfire. Sakib al Hasan, who stroked a brilliant century in the opening game, was promoted to number three position for the first time in his entire ODI career and his innings lasted just one ball as he went back to the dressing room with a golden duck. Sakib had played at number three for many times in Twenty20 cricket but had never came in at this crucial batting order position in ODIs, though his inclusion can be justified considering his form and the situation which warranted someone to capitalise on solid foundation.

The decision to send Mushfiqur Rahim at number four can also be explained with the same logic but experiment should have ended after it did not click. But the management chose the opposite path. Sabbir Rahman, who was playing only in his second one-day international, was sent at number five ahead of Mahmuddullah and Mominul Haque, hoping that he can repeat his performance of first match when he made 44 off 25 balls. This was particularly embarrassing for Mominul Haque, who has shown tremendous potential in the Test series but still could not win the heart of the team management. The decision to send Sabbir and Mahmudullah early on had all the reasons to be questioned as it not only lowered Mominul’s confidence as a batsman but also confused the newcomer about his role in the team. Selectors and coach Chandika Hathurusinghe have always doubted Mominul’s ability in the shorter format and the decision to send him at number seven only evidenced the claim. Little man Mominul, however, took a very little time to prove them wrong stemming the rot to score an unbeaten 33 off 23 balls at a strike rate of 143.47, an innings which enabled Bangladesh to post 251-7.

Mominul’s brief strength had every indication that cricket is not a game of physical strength and rather of mental toughness. One does not need to be a muscleman to hit boundaries rather he can earn it through placement. Two of his three boundaries were also the outcome of placement, which was the right approach after some other batsmen have failed with trying to play with physical power. Had there been a better opposition the decision to toy with ideas could have easily taken a toll on them. They made a lucky escape but if experiment continues, it can have a telling effect especially for a side that is searching its right combination with the World Cup cricket just two months away.

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