Bowling the stronger suit?
Sports Desk: If there is one thing that the second day’s play of the second Test against South Africa has proven, it is that though the rest of the world ridiculed him, Mushfiqur Rahim was absolutely right in his decision to field first. It is common wisdom that to get an upper hand in Test cricket, you should put your better suit forward first. While we thought that for Bangladesh the better suit is batting and have been crying ourselves hoarse for the team to win the toss and bat first, obviously coach Chandika Hathurusingha and Mushfiqur knew better all along.
That is why Mushfiqur has been so hard on the bowlers. After the first Test when Bangladesh’s true stalwarts conceded 496 for three and 247 for six, Mushfiqur tried to fire up his suddenly wayward stallions by saying even he, a mere batsman, could come in and bowl deliveries in good areas. But after the bowlers conceded 428 for three on the first day of the second Test, Mushfiqur tried one more salvo, implying that aging legend and Bangladesh bowling coach Courtney Walsh would fare better if he went out and bowled instead.
Well, even as they conceded 573 for four in just 120 overs, the bowlers did for a short period execute a plan to bowl short and extracted the wickets of openers Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram. That is what you expect of your stronger suit.
But it was soon time for Bangladesh’s weak link; how long can they hide? Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis also knows the secret — no amount of closed-door practice sessions can keep that under wraps.
The only plan the batsmen can be entrusted with, however, is the ‘natural game’ plan. The ever-favoured Soumya chased a wide delivery without moving his feet in the second over; only natural. As was his dismissal, bowled around his legs by Kagiso Rabada. Mominul Haque tried to defend, tried to play his natural game, but could not get his bat away in time. Why should he be expected to? These are foreign conditions, it’s not like he has had time in the game like the vastly superior bowlers.
Mushfiqur is trying something new. Instead of grafting, he has decided on this tour to be aggressive and went after short, rising deliveries. But he forgot that South Africa have three strong suits and Temba Bavuma sent him off with a stunner. Mahmudullah played his natural game, hanging bat out to edge to slip after driving a four. Imrul hooked nicely, then immediately after tea wafted horrendously. Sabbir came in and played his natural game. It was tough luck that he was caught at cover. But so long as he was following the process (presumably the natural game), that’s fine.
But hard as he was on the bowlers, Mushfiqur was probably happy that his stronger suit finally came to the party. The bowlers, supporting the wicketkeeper, bailed them out from 65 for six to a score immeasurably better, but it might be too late for the stronger suit to strut their stuff in their day jobs.
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