• Saturday, December 20, 2014

Freedom in the air

Bangladesh's trinity

Sakeb Subhan

One can stop opposition openers in their tracks; the other has the ability to take the game away in a flash, and the last, and perhaps the most influential, has the potential to turn any game with bat or ball, or both.
The trio of Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan are the most loved and popular cricketers of the land. The whole country will be looking to them to be at their best when they take on Afghanistan in the ICC World Twenty20 opener today, and also for the rest of the tournament.

BATTLE BORN
Fans will remember Mashrafe's tears when he failed to make the squad for the 50-over World Cup in 2011 co-hosted by Bangladesh, so he will be chomping at the bit for action today.
What he brings to the table are his never-say-die attitude and discipline -- qualities no doubt honed through his endless fights with pain and disappointment. He is an excellent limited-overs bowler -- his taming of Chris Gayle in late 2012 or the shackles he put on Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma in the recent Asia Cup. His only weak point is his death-overs bowling, although recently he has addressed that somewhat with the addition of clever slower balls.
Other than that is his intangible contribution in being a leader of the team's philosophy, work ethic and fighting qualities.

A DASH OF DANGER
He is the hired gun possessed of outlandish talent -- the man who believes he can, and indeed can, punish every ball save perhaps the in-swinging yorker. It is perhaps Tamim's ability to punish every ball that sees him disappoint at times, but Twenty20 is not a format to dwell on that too much. He should be right at home because the expectation on him will be to provide fast starts, and that should free his mind of clutter. Also, Bangladesh's recent influx of talented batsmen will further free the Chittagonian dasher from fetters.
The left-hander has not had the best of times recently, what with some rumblings with officialdom. The last time that happened he reeled off four fabulous half-centuries on the bounce in the 2012 Asia Cup, so there is that to hope for.

THE LAID-BACK ASSASSIN
The truly world-class player in the ranks, Shakib holds the key. With him Bangladesh effectively take the field with 12 players, so complete is his fluency with both bat and ball -- he is certainly the best bowler in the side and one of the three best batsmen.
He also has the sharpest cricketing brain in the country, so skipper Mushfiqur Rahim will do well to consult him when the going gets tough as it undoubtedly will over the next three weeks.
He brings to the table an enviable insouciance even when under pressure and a priceless ability to bounce back from beatings, the most recent evidence of which is his troubling of Shahid Afridi after being hit for three sixes in the previous over. It is no understatement to say that much of Bangladesh's fortunes will depend on Shakib finding himself in pressure situations and coming through trumps, as only he can.

Published: 12:00 am Sunday, March 16, 2014

Last modified: 12:18 am Sunday, March 16, 2014

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