2022 could easily be labelled as the year of batting collapses for Bangladesh.
Two of Bangladesh’s lowest ever totals in Tests have come this year. The Tigers have played six Tests so far in 2022. In four of those Tests, they have lost five or more wickets with less than 40 runs on the board.
Constant batting collapses have left everyone puzzled. The team management has also been left scratching their heads to figure out why the team’s top-order is disintegrating in every other match.
After losing the Dhaka Test against Sri Lanka last month on the back of yet another batting collapse, Bangladesh head coach Russell Domingo said the management will have to make some changes going forward to fix this chronic issue.
Bangladesh coach Russell Domingo and captain Shakib Al Hasan
Bangladesh coach Russell Domingo and captain Shakib Al HasanProthom Alo file photo
A lot has happened since the series against Sri Lanka ended. Mominul Haque has resigned from captaincy and Shakib Al Hasan has been appointed as the new leader for the third time in his career. Pacer Mustafizur Rahman, who hasn’t played a Test for over a year, has returned to the squad for the West Indies Tests. Bangladesh’s best performer against Sri Lanka, Mushfiqur Rahim, has opted out of the West Indies series to perform hajj. The second best performer of that series, Liton Das, has been made Shakib’s deputy in Tests.
A new era in Tests under Shakib’s leadership is set to get underway on 16 June with the first Test of the two-match series against West Indies. Strengthening the fragile top-order and making batting collapses a rare occurrence and not a regular event will be the first priority in this new era.
But it’s quite ironic that this new era will begin in the same place where Bangladesh suffered its worst ever batting collapse in international cricket.
Kemar Roach (2L) of West Indies celebrates the dismissal of Tamim Iqbal (R) of Bangladesh during day 1 of the 1st Test between West Indies and Bangladesh at Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, North Sound, Antigua, on 4 July 2018
Kemar Roach (2L) of West Indies celebrates the dismissal of Tamim Iqbal (R) of Bangladesh during day 1 of the 1st Test between West Indies and Bangladesh at Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, North Sound, Antigua, on 4 July 2018AFP
The last time Bangladesh played a Test at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua was back in July of 2018. That was the first Test of Shakib’s second tenure as Test captain and it started in a disastrous manner.
Sent to bat, Bangladesh were bundled out for just 43 in the first innings. More than half of Bangladesh’s total runs were scored by Liton, who made 25, while none of the other batters could get into double figures.
A lot has changed since 2018 for both teams. West Indies are without their pacer trio of Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel and Jason Holder, who troubled Bangladesh throughout the series in 2018.
The Bangladeshi pacers Rubel Hossain, Abu Jayed and Kamrul Islam were largely ineffective in that series. This time, however, Bangladesh have gone to the Carribean islands with a completely new pace attack with the likes of Ebadot Hossain, Khaled Ahmed, newcomer Rejaur Rahman and a returning Mustafizur Rahman.
West Indies are maybe without their premium pacers, but they won’t be short of fast bowling options. Alzarri Joseph will lead the attack and will be accompanied by Jayden Seals and Anderson Phillips.
Bangladesh’s recent track record also doesn’t give the tourists a lot of hope going into the contest. West Indies are coming into the Test on the back of a One-Day International series defeat in Pakistan. But they defeated England 1-0 in their last Test series at home.
New captain can often revitalise a team. A recent example of it is team England, who have turned a corner after Ben Stokes tookover as Test skipper. They are currently 2-0 up in a three-Test series against World Test champions New Zealand after winning the second Test by chasing down 299 runs in just 50 overs on Day 5.
Will Shakib’s return to captaincy have a similar rejuvenating effect or will the ghosts of Antigua return to haunt the Tigers, only time will tell.