Monday, April 14, 2008

The Bengali Core

A couple of days ago on Nestaquin's 99.94 I commented on his Bangladeshi Blues post saying that Bangladesh needed to identify their core players and stick with them for a long time for the team to become a force in international cricket.

The names I identified in my comments as the Bengali Core were Ashraful, Tamim Iqbal, Shahriar Nafees, Aftab Ahmed, Shakib Al Hasan, and Murtaza.

Last night against Pakistan, 4 of these 6 players delivered a top notch performance and gave Pakistan a real scare. Pakistan should have felt safe after posting 308, but the Bengali boys had different ideas.

On the bowling front Murtaza and Shakib held their own with figures of 2-47 and 2-50 respectively. Considering that Pakistan posted 308 off their 50 those figures look even more impressive. On top, Shakib got the BIG wickets of Mohammad Yousuf and Shahid Afridi.

The better part was to come as the Bengalis went about their chase.

After losing their 1st wicket in the 6th over, Tamim Iqbal and Aftab Ahmed got together and pounded the Paki bowlers in a 2nd wicket partnership of 90 runs off a mere 13 overs.

The partnership was broken the only way these boys could have got out - through a misunderstanding causing a run out.

Tamim Iqbal scored 63 off 69 deliveries that included 8 boundaries. This is the same boy that shut the world cup hopes of the Indians in the Windies last year. Aftab departed soon thereafter, scoring 42 off 49 deliveries.

The best was yet to come though.

Shakib Al Hasan walked to the wicket at the fall of Aftab's wicket in he 23rd over. He departed in the 45th after having scored a brilliant 75 off 73 balls.

Bangladesh lost by only 23 runs and posted their highest ever score while chasing. It could have been different or closer had Sakib played for another 4 overs.

The bengali's performance was heartening last night. Salman Butt got the man of the match for his 132 but for me Shakib's 75 and 2-50 definitely deserved a special award.

On the Pakistani front - it was good to see Sohail Khan get a game finally. He should be part of the first choice XI. There should be no questions about that. Plus, Shoaib Malik finally went into a match with 6 bowling options. Pakistan finally for their combination right. Now only if they would play Gul instead of Rao!

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