WHY SHOULD I TAKE SO LONG TO SCORE? Bangladesh batsman Mohammad Ashraful (in the foreground) goes for a wild swing as India wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni catches him short of his crease off the bowling of Pragyan Ojha (not in picture) on the first morning of the Mirpur Test yesterday. PHOTO: ANISUR RAHMAN
It was once again the tale of the tail-enders and it was once again the story of Mahmudullah Riyad, who rescued Bangladesh from complete embarrassment on the first day of the second and final Test against India at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
Many may suggest that Riyad is not a tail-ender, but his position in the batting order goes to show that he is one. Some other may also raise the question how it is possible that a batsman like Mohammad Ashraful is batting at number four with such a poor approach while Riyad comes in at number eight.
Without any doubt Riyad was the hero of the day in the Bangladesh's pathetic top-order collapse with his missed maiden century as the right-hander remained not out on 96, but it was Ashraful and captain Shakib Al Hasan who got the attentions most, and definitely for the wrong reasons. If most of the top-order batsmen were exposed in early morning condition with their lack of ability then the two batsmen committed crime, especially the way former skipper Ashraful got out which raised the same old question: Is there any chance this batsman will learn from his mistakes? One can't be blamed if he or she thinks that the right-hander hasn't learnt anything during his nine years in the international arena.
It was not all about 'inconsistency' as his coach Jamie Siddons said after the first Test at Chittagong rather it was 'irresponsibility' which caused the real concern for the batsman. One can't even imagine that an experienced batsman like Ashraful comes down the track to charge left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha when his team is struggling with four wickets down before fifty runs on the board.
Does he deserve to be aboard the plane for New Zealand after committing this kind of a crime? The answer should be in the negative even if he comes up with a big score in the second innings because everybody knows that one good innings from him means he will go into a long hibernation.
On the other hand, time has also come for Shakib to work on his batting after the way he chased the ball way outside his off-stump to nip the rebuilding process in the bud.
In the top-order ruins the innings of Riyad however came as some sort of refreshment. The right-hander, who also played a well-composed 69-run innings to help his side reach a respectable total in the first innings of the first Test, showed rare brand of consistency in his batting since he started it in the tri-nation one-day tournament.
His technique and ability to build up an innings by pushing for single was something which is rare in Bangladesh cricket. And although he missed a maiden century by a whisker, his valiant effort earned praises from none other than the Indian players on the field.
"Yuvraj [Singh] told me that it was a good knock although I did not get a hundred. Bhajji [Harbhajan Singh] also said 'well played'. I am not disappointed for missing the century. In the end we got a good total," said Riyad.
Riyad came in to bat with the scoreboard reading 106 for six and the dismissal of Shakib almost left them in a position that crossing 150 would be beyond imagination. But the right-hander kept his cool and got the assistance from his partners to take the score to a respectable 233 runs. Credit must go to him for that he rotated the strike just at the right times.
"After Shakib was out, I tried to bat as long as possible and score as many runs as possible. That was my plan," he informed.