Friday, 16 December 2011

Bangladesh on a Mission Impossible?

Ashraful dropped for Dhaka
Bangladesh face a mission impossible in the second of their two Tests against Pakistan which starts in Dhaka tomorrow. Even if Tom Cruise and the entire IMF were available, its doubtful whether it would make the slightest shred of difference.

Pakistan won by an innings and plenty last week in Chittagong in a match where Pakistan scored nearly 600 through Younis Khan's unbeaten 200 and further centuries from one of the world's form batsmen, Mohammad Hafeez and a first century to Asad Shafiq. Debutante Nazimuddin and the experienced Shakib Al Hasan made half centuries in a losing cause during the second innings. Usually Bangladesh struggle against quick bowlers but it was the Pakistani spinners, led by Abdur Rehman, who undid them.

Coach Stuart Law is fighting a difficult battle. He has too few players, a system of selection which is first out of his hands and then out of the selectors hands, as all teams have to be approved by the President Mustafa Kamal and not enough first class games in which to build skills and confidence. There is no bridge to Test cricket, rather a huge leap.

Middle order batsman Mohammad Ashraful has been dropped from the squad, paying the price on behalf of the team after a double failure at Chittagong. His place will be filled by opening bowler Shafiul Islam. His bowling was innocuous in his last outing against Zimbabwe, so its hard to see him making any impact against an increasingly robust Pakistan top six.

Pakistan will likely retain the same team which won so comfortably in the first Test. Another win and a poor showing by Sri Lanka in South Africa, will jump them one spot to 5th on the ICC rankings. The weather looks good for all five days, with bright sunshine and temperatures in the mid twenties.

Its not a matter of who will win but just by how far.