Bangladesh's return to the land where they won their first away Test turned sour as Kemar Roach ripped them apart inside nine overs on Wednesday, reducing them to 18/5 which turned into 43 all out, the sixth lowest total ever in Test cricket. All in a space of 112 balls.
The fact that the whole batting effort lasted less than the duration of a T20 innings shows how crudely Bangladesh batsmen applied themselves on a green track at Antigua. This contest, atleast on paper, had appeared closer than what the first two hours showcased. Bangladesh, ranked just below West Indies in Tests, were supposedly on a recent upswing in this format, having levelled the series’ against South Africa, England, Australia and Sri Lanka since the last time they toured the Caribbean Islands (in 2014).
But Roach took little time to prove that nothing had changed since he dismantled them with 11 wickets in two Tests four years ago. Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib-al-Hasan and Mahmudullah, the supposed core of Bangladesh's Test batting, departed in the space of four balls as Roach found zip and movement off the surface. Appallingly, none of the Bangladesh batsmen were prepared to get in line with the delivery or play off the back foot.
Liton Das, who resisted for 53 balls, toiling against the run of play, went after a length delivery that seamed away only to edge to the point fielder. The dismissal kind of summed up Bangladesh's horror show. They were poor in defence, played as many as 38.30 percent false shots according to CricViz (highest in an innings of Test cricket since 2006) and let themselves down.
Bangladesh's false shot (edged and missed) percentage of 38.30% is the highest in an innings of Test cricket in our shot-type database - which begins in 2006 and comprises 1863 innings. #WIvBan pic.twitter.com/yvNynMZhHD
— The Cricket Prof. (@CricProf) July 4, 2018
But was it an anomaly to Bangladesh's standard batting performances in Test cricket?
Not really. While the recent ruckus surrounding Bangladesh stems from their surprising wins against England and Australia at home and Sri Lanka away from home, the fact remains that they have won just 10 Test matches in all! Only four of those have come away from home, with two of them coming against a second-string West Indian side in 2009.
While the lack of quality pace bowlers has been zeroed in as Bangladesh's problem in alien conditions, their batting hasn't been overtly impressive either. One of their most memorable batting performances outside home came recently against New Zealand at Wellington. The Bangladeshi batsmen piled up 595 in the first innings then, aided by a double century from Shakib and an equally impressive hundred from Rahim. They still lost the Test match, with the duo failing to find runs in the second innings.
The tendency to rely too much on too few has turned out to be a massive drawback in Bangladesh's Test batting away from home. Since they last toured West Indies, there have only been four hundreds from Bangladesh players in Tests outside home. Two each have come from Shakib and Rahim while the others have contributed zilch. In fact, Soumya Sarkar, who isn't even in the side now, is the only one, aside from the two aforementioned, to have an average greater than 30 in away Tests since the 2014 tour.
The likes of Tamim Iqbal, Mominul Haque and Mahmudullah have gone missing when Bangladesh critically needed them to step up. Of the 24 50-plus scores Bangladesh players have made overseas since the 2014 Tests, eight have come from Rahim and Shakib, an indication of how poor the others have been.
Buoyed after winning a Test and levelling the series against Sri Lanka at Colombo, Bangladesh had toured South Africa with high hopes last year. However, their batsmen failed them in three of the four innings’ in South Africa with the team racking up scores of 320, 90, 147 and 172. Fronting up to pace bowling has been one of Bangladesh's primary concerns and the lack of exposure to high quality bowling showed when the best of their batsmen appeared all at sea against Roach, who was struggling with a knee injury.
Tamim fell to Roach for the 10th time in his international career, squaring up to a ball that seamed away late. Mominul and Mahmudullah displayed little footwork while Rahim failed to get behind the line of the ball. Shakib and Liton were guilty of chasing balls that could have been left alone.
The batting performance followed a familiar pattern to what had unfolded in South Africa and New Zealand last year. The mammoth 595 on a lifeless pitch in Wellington somewhat masks Bangladesh’s woes on green-tinged surfaces. Of their eight innings in South Africa and New Zealand, Bangladesh managed to score in excess of 200 just three times. In fact, since their last Windies tour, Bangladesh have managed to score in excess of 200 in both innings’ of an away Test match just once — against India at Hyderabad in a Test they lost.
The abominable batting display at Antigua in the first innings was their worst in Test cricket, but against well-oiled seam bowling attacks on green tops, do Bangladesh really have the quality in batting to resist?
Their newly appointed coach, Steve Rhodes, had predicted a competitive Test series in West Indies. However, going by their forgettable show on day one, Bangladesh will have to play out of their skins to match up to Rhodes’ words.
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