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Bangladesh need discipline in batting against New Zealand

Faisal Caesar | | Updated: October 7, 2015, 3:42 PM IST

Three years ago, a strong New Zealand team came to Bangladesh to play an ODI series. During that time, the New Zealand Cricket Board asked the two-match Test series to be scrapped, and consequently the three-match ODI series was changed to a best-of-five rubber. New Zealand wanted to focus more on 50-over cricket at the time with the 2011 World Cup approaching. But to Bangladesh's anger, the Kiwis were scheduled to fly to India before the World Cup to play a three match Test series, which they did. Feeling robbed, the Tigers replied in a disdainful manner, hammering the Black Caps 4-0, with one match washed out. The victory lap by the hosts - led by Shakib Al Hasan - after the final ODI at Mirpur's Sher-e-Bangla stadium is a scene close to every Bangladeshi's heart, and the Tigers eye an encore three years later.

The Kiwis are in Bangladesh again. This time they will play a full series, starting with two Tests, followed by three ODIs and a solitary T20I. New Zealand have had the upper hand against Bangladesh in Test cricket. Since their first meeting in Test cricket in 2001-02, the Tigers have yet to beat New Zealand. Bangladesh had a golden opportunity to do that in 2008 when the Kiwis limped home to win by 3 wickets at Chittagong. In that first Test of the series, Bangladesh set New Zealand 317 to chase in the fourth innings and the visitors almost kneeled in front of Bangladesh spinners led by the enigmatic Shakib. But in the end, a much resilient Daniel Vettori and Daniel Flynn snatched victory from between the hosts' teeth. The two-match Test series ended 1-0 in favour of New Zealand.

The Tigers have improved by leaps and bound since then, but have failed to take their reasonable limited-overs success into the Test arena. Time and again they have shown signs of essaying glorious moments but most often failed to deliver the knockout punch, losing in the battle of temperament.

New Zealand's recent form in Test cricket is not intimidating. Since the start of this year, they haven't savoured a Test win. They had a disastrous series against South Africa in South Africa while against England in England their performance was simply horrifying. On the other hand, Bangladesh have a Test win under their belt this year and some braveheart performances against Sri Lanka to boost their confidence.

One area where Bangladesh have always lacked since becoming a Test nation is consistency and discipline in batting. And this is where the Tigers need to careful against the New Zealanders. Their batting has been the thorn in their flesh over the years and time and again, Bangladesh batsmen have blown away the hard work done by the bowlers.

Panic often sets in among Bangladesh willow-wielder, triggering a collapse which has become all too familiar a sight for the fans. Partnerships get broken, well-set batsmen gift their wickets and it spreads like an epidemic in the rest of the line-up leading to fatal results. Moreover, the tendency to score runs by depending too much on boundary-based batting and not maneuvering the strike has been Bangladesh's Achilles heel.

Most of our batsmen start playing adventurous strokes from the word go, which thrills for a transient period but never results in a rich harvest in Test cricket. Clearly, Bangladesh batsmen are yet to understand the meaning of 'occupying the crease'.

If Bangladesh wish to achieve the desired results against New Zealand, they need to ensure enough resolve in their batting. Without a doubt, Bangladesh spinners have the guile and ability to test the New Zealand batting order - which has always been susceptible on turning tracks. But the spinners' hard work will never be rewarded if our batting doesn't click as a unit.

New Zealand bowling, though without Daniel Vettori and Tim Southee, can't be undermined by any means. Trent Boult, Neil Wagener and Doug Bracewell are gritty customers and have the ability to fetch wickets. If Bangladesh don't pull themselves up, they will find it tough even against a slightly thin-looking Kiwi bowling unit.
First Published: October 5, 2013, 1:06 PM IST

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