Third among equals | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 27, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:28 AM, April 27, 2019

Third among equals

There has been a lot of planning and assessment surrounding the Tigers’ strengths and weaknesses in batting and bowling before and since the selectors announced the 15-member Bangladesh squad for the ICC World Cup scheduled to start from May 30 next in the United Kingdom.

Many believe that the fast bowlers will play a key role in the seam-friendly English conditions, while many think that as it is an ICC event, the pitches will also help the batters post big totals.

Experts have already started to chalk out the team combination, speculating over whether the think tank should include an extra spinner or go with a seam-bowling all-rounder who could also score some quick runs lower down the order.

But apart from batting and bowling, the fielding department will also play a vital role in Bangladesh’s World Cup campaign. It is often overlooked, but the fielding has at times been an almost silent cause for worry, especially in big events.

Considering the fitness aspect, almost all the Bangladesh cricketers can be termed as fit and agile to varying degrees but there have been many instances where dropped catches exacted a heavy price in the past, changing the course of games that could have been won.

Despite having some brilliant fielders and safe pairs of hands in the likes of Sabbir Rahman, Mehedi Hasan Miraz and seniors like Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah Riyad, there are a few specific areas in fielding -- especially in slip the cordon -- where Bangladesh team are yet to find specialist fielders. The likes of Soumya Sarkar and Mohammad Mithun are the ones who could take up the challenge in the World Cup this time around.

Although it’s not Test cricket and in the 50-over format the captain can hardly afford slip fielders except in the early stages of the innings, but it is still important to grab those chances in the slips to gain early momentum.

A dropped catch can often be a double blow as it demoralises the bowler and if the reprieved batsman goes on to play a big knock it puts a lot of mental pressure on the team. Fielding is an especially important chink to iron out for a team like Bangladesh, because the Tigers are not often able to score or chase 300-plus, which may be par for the course in the UK this summer. 

It will be important for the team management, along with fielding coach Ryan Cook, to work on this aspect.

During the recent tour of New Zealand, it was the dropped chances in both the ODI and Test series that cost the visitors heavily on a tour where an inexperienced fast bowling department were made to look more helpless. 

Apart from the lack of specialist slip fielders, the poor approach and attitude from the fast bowlers towards fielding -- both catching and ground fielding -- has also remained a big concern.

The likes of Rubel Hossain and Mustafizur Rahman have remained two of the weak links in the Bangladesh fielding department.

As it was previously witnessed during the Tigers’ ICC Champions Trophy campaign in England back in 2017, the bowlers had to fight really hard for each wicket courtesy of the batting-friendly pitches.

Therefore, it is fielding and catching that will once again play a big role to contain some runs on a pitches expected to offer more than 300 runs and a smart fielding unit can make the difference.

There is a saying in cricket that you can’t change your skills overnight in bowling and batting, but it in fielding you can improve in a short period by working hard. That will be a big, if oft-unexpressed, hope heading into the World Cup.

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