When Bangladesh plays New Zealand in the second ODI of the three-match series on Wednesday at Saxton Oval in Nelson, they will be looking to adopt a different strategy after losing by 44 runs (via DLS) in a rain-shortened first ODI. They also need to put together a well-balanced playing eleven in order to salvage the series.
In the opening game, the Tigers’ plan to start four specialist bowlers in order to make room for an extra batter to bolster the batting unit backfired miserably when Soumya Sarkar, who was returning to the team after missing the World Cup, failed to live up to expectations as the fifth bowling option.
Although the selectors supported Soumya for his potential to contribute with a few overs at a medium speed, the 30-year-old all-rounder’s bowling abilities hardly warrant a spot as a dependable bowling option in an ODI.
In the opening match, Soumya, who bowled the entire six overs allotted in a 30-overs-a-side competition, conceded 63 runs. The New Zealand batsmen were quick to identify and take advantage of the weakest point in the Bangladeshi bowling unit.
“Is he considered for this role in the domestic circuit as well?” Notable coach Nazmul Abedeen Fahim was likewise dubious about Soumya’s suitability as the fifth bowling option. “Soumya has skills, no doubt about it, but we also need to think about whether he can use them right now. He can still bowl a few overs in the middle and be the sixth bowling option, in my opinion. We must consider if forcing him to bowl the entire quota is warranted.”
Not having a true fifth bowler only reflected the team management’s poor decision-making and their lack of faith in the batting unit’s ability, even though the final rain interruption in the first ODI had forced Bangladesh to adjust their bowling plan—the Tigers had already had their lead pacers bowl most of their overs which forced them to rely on Soumya in the final phase of the game.
After a brilliant opening over by Shoriful Islam, the hosts were two down. However, thanks to a ton from Will Young and 92 from Tom Latham, they had a chance to rally and finish with a massive total of 239 for seven. However, in the dying overs, skipper Najmul Hossain Shanto was forced to give the ball over to Soumya.
Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh’s injured regular captain, will undoubtedly be missed in the batting and bowling departments. The Tigers’ thinking team is faced with a conundrum when it comes to selecting a well-balanced eleven, as is always the case when the all-round great isn’t available.
With bowling options including uncapped leg spinner Rishad Hossain, left-arm spinner Rakibul Hasan, and pacer Tanzim Hasan Sakib in the squad, coach Chandika Hathurusingha and the team management will need to get rid of their defensive mindset and select a team with a positive outlook for the forthcoming match.
“It’s critical to place greater focus on the result rather than just the names or experience. In the first ODI, we lacked bowlers capable of bowling fifty overs. For example, you have to choose someone better than Shakib if there is someone better [for any game]. However, we haven’t considered that approach yet,” Fahim continued, implying that the Tigers haven’t yet displayed audacity in their thinking.
Perhaps the Tigers should adopt a new strategy, especially in light of the recent World Cup fiasco.