Tigers' failings or a lack of planning?
The sights of a batsman falling to the ground while trying to survive a bouncer and a tired bowler with his head down have been features of the Bangladesh cricketers as they head towards a comprehensive defeat in the first of the three-match Test series against New Zealand at Seddon Park.
The visitors are undoubtedly having a tough time on their tour, on which nothing has gone right for the Tigers; be it with bat or ball.
Many may point their fingers at the cricketers for failing to adapt to the tough conditions in New Zealand, but the question is whether the authorities really wanted to prepare the players according to the challenges, which they knew well before arriving.
For example, do the three Bangladesh pacers have the experience of bowling more than 25 overs in a first-class competition? Have they really gotten enough support from pitches on the domestic circuit which would allow them to bowl many overs and test their stamina?
The young Bangladesh pace bowling trio of Khaled Ahmed, Abu Jayed and debutant Ebadot Hossain conceded a combined 369 runs from 87 overs while managing to pick just one wicket as New Zealand went on to post their highest-ever total of 715 for six before declaring.
On the other hand, the hosts banked on a barrage of bouncers to undo the Tigers with left-arm seamer Neil Wagner leading the way, continuously bowling short-pitched deliveries in both innings to great effect. It seemed like the Tigers were more tired of ducking against Wagner than the left-armer was by bowling those well-directed bouncers.
It was on a similar pitchto which their batsmen were tested to the limits that the Bangladesh bowlers looked toothless.
Comparing the bouncers bowled by the pacers of the two sides, Bangladesh's batsmen faced a total of 120 bouncers in two innings, leaving 81 of those, scoring 78 runs and losing seven wickets.On the other hand, New Zealand faced 51 bouncers from the Bangladeshi seamers, leaving 42, scoring 23 runs and not losing a wicket.
Another big reason for the huge difference in bouncers between the two sides was the pace behind the ball. The average speed of Trent Boult was 138 km/h, Wagner 135 km/h and Tim Southee 132 km/h.
Even the fastest among the lot for the Tigers, Khaled with an average speed of 131 km/h, was behind New Zealand's slowest bowler while Ebadot and Jayed bowled at an average speed of 129 and 126km/h respectively.
It is not the Tigers' fault for not being able to bowl at good pace. It is the responsibility of the Bangladesh Cricket Board to groom seamers with proper guidance and planning much like India did with their fast bowlers in constructing what is now one of the best seam-bowling line-ups in the world.
The same goes for the batsmen as Tamim Iqbal has remained the only visiting batsman to find a way to negotiate the Kiwis' bouncer strategy, mostly due to his experience of playing for so long in the international circuit. But apart from the left-hander, how many others have actually faced those challenges?
It is also the responsibility of the players to prepare themselves as individuals, but when you are habituated to winning Test matches inside three days at home with the help of tailor-made pitches, you should expect the same when you are abroad. So, they better be prepared for it.