Mustafizur's mystery, Bangladesh's brittle batting and UAE's lack of killer punch: Asia Cup 2016 talking points

Friday’s clash between hosts Bangladesh and surprise qualifiers UAE was a must-win for both teams. Bangladesh needed to give the home fans some reasons to cheer, and the UAE needed to prove that the scare they gave Sri Lanka was no flash in the pan. While the UAE did ask some questions, again, Bangladesh romped home in what was eventually a one-sided game. There are the talking points:

A tale of two UAEs:

For a team that had won four of its last five T20Is before the Asia cup, the UAE seemed to field two different teams Friday. While some of the bowling was truly top notch, the batting was decidedly insipid.

Mustafizurs mystery, Bangladeshs brittle batting and UAEs lack of killer punch: Asia Cup 2016 talking points

Bangladesh players celebrate the dismissal of UAE captain during the Asia Cup clash in Mirpur on Friday. AFP

In Mohammed Naved and skipper Amjad Javed, the UAE have two fine bowlers who can swing the ball while consistently bowling in the high 130s. And Ahmed Raza has been very economical in both games so far with his left arm spin. Naved (2-12) especially was a treat to watch. He moved the ball both ways and kept the batters guessing with his immaculate line. UAE’s decent start against the Bangladeshi openers was undone, though, in the 5th over when both openers offered a catch only for both chances to be grassed. Despite that, the UAE clawed back with Naved sending down a wicket-maiden in the 13th over, even employing a slip and gully to the new batter.

Then Amjad (2-34) took two wickets in two balls in the 18th over to reduce Bangladesh to 112 for six. At one point in the 19th, UAE had taken 3 wickets in nine balls and conceded only three runs. Had it not been for a last-over flurry (17 runs) from Mahmudullah (36* off 27), Bangladesh could have scored much less than the 133 they finally posted.

For the second match in a row, on the best batting track the tournament had seen, the UAE had kept a Test playing nation down to a 130ish score — no mean feat. Naved’s economy rate of just three-an-over was also the second-best for an associate bowler against a full member team.

With bat in hand though, the UAE seemed like a hydrophobic in the deep end. They seemed ill equipped for Taskin Ahmed’s pace or Mustafizur’s deceptive change of pace. Though the ability to hit the odd big shot and clear the fence was apparent, the batters seemed to lack the temperament to plan their innings. When Mustafizur came on, they were unable to pick his slower balls, much like they struggled against Malinga in the last game. The batting display made it hard to believe that this team scored 176 against associate heavyweights Afghanistan, en route to qualifying for this tournament. The dismissal of captain Amjad Javed, who slipped after playing a shot and kicked his own stumps, was symbolic of UAE’s batting travails.

Bangladesh sweat on Shakib and batting form:

Despite the scoreboard showing that Mohammed Mithun scored 47 off 41 balls and put on a 46-run opening stand with Sarkar, the openers were far from convincing. Had the UAE fielders not dropped both openers in the fifth over, a very different picture could have emerged (Mithun was on 10 and Sarkar on 12. Neither looked comfortable against the UAE opening bowlers). A middle order collapse, which saw them lose three wickets for 11 runs against the minnows of the tournament, would give skipper Mortaza a mild headache. Mushfiqur Rahim’s form is a cause for worry, while Mahmudullah seems to have done enough to earn a promotion up the order in the next game.

What will really be worrying the Tigers’ think tank is the form of their star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan. His last 10 T20I scores read 13, 3, 4, 3, 27*, 20*, 8, 26, 57*, and 66, with only 50 runs scored in his last 5 innings. His woes were further exacerbated by the manner of his dismissal on Friday; he missed a full toss and was castled. The coach and captain will be hoping that a match-winning knock is just round the corner. Shakib –arguably Bangladesh’s best ever T20 player, who has plied his trade across many T20 leagues- is crucial to success for Bangladesh in this tournament as well as the WT20.

‘Mystreyfizur’ Rahman continues to impress:

I know how hard it is for a pace bowler to change direction in their follow through and dive full length to take a return catch. That is why I was rooting for Mustafizur, despite the third umpire doubting his brilliant caught-and-bowled to (almost) dismiss Rohan Mustafa.

Nonetheless, Mustafizur came back in his second spell to snuff the life out of the UAE batting. With two almost identical dismissals off consecutive balls, he ruled out any chance of a miraculous recovery for the Emirates. First he found Shahzad’s leading edge as the batter closed his bat face too early to an off cutter. Then he repeated his trick to ‘keeper Patil, who had given Sri Lanka a few anxious moments in the last game by top scoring with 37. Comparisons of his actions for his stock delivery and his off cutter showed so little difference in the release for both, that it is no surprise that he is right up there with Malinga as the best exponent of the art of deception.

Bangladesh will next face the defending champions Sri Lanka on Sunday. UAE, after playing two back to back games, have a couple of days off before their game against Pakistan on Monday.

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Updated Date: Feb 27, 2016 18:12:05 IST

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