By Sunil Gavaskar, January 23, 2010
India’s facile win over Bangladesh in the first Test despite being bowled out for a low score was similar to Australia’s win over Pakistan in the Sydney Test match. There too the Australians were dismissed for a paltry total but were good enough to bowl Pakistan out twice to win by a good margin. What both Tests showed was how irresponsible batting can undo the stellar work done by the bowlers.
The Pakistani batsmen went hammer and tongs at the pace attack of the Australians even when they had plenty of time to bat and build a lead which would mean that they wouldn’t have to bat again. They did get a lead of 200 plus but that was simply because Australia had been bowled out for just 127 in the first innings. To get a little over 330 when the openers had given them a good platform was to have wasted the chance to put Australia out of the game. It wasn’t so much the bowling but the shot selection that was the downfall of the Pakistani batsmen and unfortunately they didn’t seem to have learnt in the second innings and then even in the next Test match which they duly lost.
Bangladesh too were let down by their batsmen after their bowlers, led by the skipper Shakib Al Hassan, had bowled India’s strong batting line-up for just 243. Bangladesh batting looked as if they were still in the limited overs mode and went for shots that were so far out that it was a surprise that they even got close to that poor Indian total. That they were able to do so was due to a defiant stand between two youngsters who look as if they have the nous to take Bangladesh cricket forward. Mahmudullah Riyad and Mushfiqur Rahim are two players who showed plenty of gumption and resolve as they hung together and stitched a century plus partnership that got them just one run short of India’s first innings total. In the second innings it was once again little Mushfiqur who stood firm when all else was falling about him and gave Bangladesh the consolation of getting past 300 in the second innings.
If Bangladesh begin to believe that just because the match went into the fifth afternoon they are improving, then that will be a big mistake. If fog had not delayed starts in the morning and caused early finishes to the day’s play whereby several overs were lost, they would well have ended up losing in four days. The manner of the Bangladesh batsmen’s dismissals was hard to understand especially in the second innings when all that they needed to make the game safe was to have a good partnership at the start of the last day’s play and go in to lunch with maybe just a wicket more down. Instead Ashraful, Nafees, Tamim all played as if they had to score and win before lunch and by losing three wickets in that session opened up the doors of victory to India.
Virender Sehwag speaks like he bats and that’s why he is so refreshing for there is no diplomatic niceties or being politically correct for him. He thinks that Bangladesh are an ordinary side who are incapable of taking twenty India wickets and despite being bowled out cheaply in the first innings the Indians posted 400 plus in the second innings which gave Sehwag the chance to declare the innings closed with 8 wickets down and thereby showing that Bangladesh couldn’t bowl India out twice. What many didn’t report, deliberately perhaps, was that Sehwag had said that since even Sri Lanka with its stronger than Bangladesh bowling attack couldn’t dismiss India out twice in the recent Test series between them he didn’t think Bangladesh could either, but of course why let the truth come in the way of sensational headlines and a good story? Of course now Sehwag has to personally also show that Bangladesh’s attack has no teeth by getting a century and more. That however is easily said than done simply because apart from the first couple of overs and later the spin of Shakib there is not much in the Bangladesh attack for the Indians to worry about especially if the pitch at Dhaka is going to be as good as it was during the tri series that was just played before the Chittagong Test match.
When confronted with a top quality attack a batsman is all geared up physically as well as mentally. All the nerve endings are taut and a fair bit of thought goes into planning the approach towards the bowlers. A batsman, especially the opening batsman, is likely to wake up early on the day he expects to bat because of the sheer sense of anticipation tinged with a bit of nervousness. His intake of food at breakfast also will be sparing since he wants to ensure he is light on his feet and not sluggish. All that adds to the occasion and he is prepared for the challenge ahead in the day.
In the case of Bangladesh, Viru obviously does not feel that tension and knowing how much he likes his sleep he probably slept a bit more than he would against say, Australia or Pakistan. In both innings in Chittagong his body language showed how relaxed he was and he got out when he looked set for a big score. That wouldn’t have happened if it had been a test against the above mentioned teams.
He still doesn’t have a Test century against Bangladesh and even if he doesn’t set much store by stats getting a century against all Test playing countries is a rare feat. So go on, Viru get a huge one which ensures India bat only once and so your words about the Bangladesh attack will also be proven right.