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Why Bangladesh collapsed on day 1 of the second Test against England

Bangladesh crumbled when the going got tough against the English.

Ben Stokes was too hot to handle after lunch and played a vital role to trigger a collapse

It was an exciting day of Test cricket at Mirpur on day 1. 13 wickets fell on the day and had rain not interfered, the duration of excitement would have been more as the English top order was found wanting again. Shakib Al Hasan struck gold first and then, it was the young sensation, Mehedi Hasan, who set jitters in the English batting line-up yet again.

Alastair Cook became his victim while the struggling Gary Ballance was dismissed cheaply again, leaving a big question mark over his selection.

But Bangladesh’s strike at the fag end of the day was not the most thrilling part, in fact, it was the collapse of the home team’s batting order which made the day an eventful one.

Imrul Kayes left the scene early, but Tamim Iqbal’s imperious form and Mominul Haque’s calm and cool presence gave Alastair Cook a scare, as they were well poised to build a strong platform.  

Also Read: Bangladesh vs England, 2nd Test, Day 1- Stats: Alastair Cook creates history

When England met Bangladesh last time at Mirpur six years ago, they experienced a birthday bash from Tamim and on day 1, they were treated with another exhibition of caution-mixed-with-aggression type of delicacy from the Bangladeshi southpaw. At the other end, Mominul provided the ideal foil to Tamim’s controlled aggression as they scripted a 170-run partnership for the second wicket in 41 overs.

Cook’s spinners let him down in the first session and he decided to rely on his strength – the pace bowlers – in the second session. The ball started to lose its shine and overcast conditions made him introduce a spin-and-pace bowling combination in search for a breakthrough.

Why did the Bangladeshi batting collapse in such bizarre fashion?

Moeen Ali struck first with the prized wicket of Tamim and in the twinkle of an eye, Bangladesh collapsed from 171 for 1 to 220 all out. Nine wickets fell for just 49 runs while five of them fell in the second session, which was the game-changer and it was when the English bowlers dished out one of those toughest sessions of Test cricket.

Of course, there were some obvious reasons behind this.

Firstly, in Test cricket, there happens to be a passage of play, which proves testing for the batsmen and England unleashed such a period from over 45 to 56.

When Adil Rashid’s sloppy bowling was releasing the pressure, Cook thought he had enough and threw the ball to his go-to-man Ben Stokes. The English captain persisted with Ali and engaged Ben Stokes from the other end and Stokes delivered his captain’s faith in him and was simply mesmerising from one end.

He banged the ball short at pace, made it move away from back of a length and brought it back into the batsmen which made run scoring a daunting task and the overcast conditions aided him a lot as well. Be it Trent Bridge or Mirpur, whenever the conditions are gloomy, the English pace bowlers are always deadly.

To survive in such tough periods, resolve is the most important thing and Bangladesh failed to exhibit it big time. In those eleven overs, Bangladesh needed to stay at the wicket, but they attempted too many shots and thus, succumbed. Moeen and Stokes plucked five wickets for 31 runs during their brief spell and Bangladesh lost their way.

Also Read: Mushfiqur Rahim hit on the head by bouncer, survives serious injury against England

Secondly, the lack of technique of the Bangladeshi batsmen while playing against reverse swing made them suffer a lot. It’s never an easy task to handle the reverse swing, but there are ways to counter it. One is composure and the other is an appropriate technique.    

While playing the reverse swing, a batsman needs to pay attention towards the shine of the ball, adjust his stance, footwork and back lift. It’s always ideal to open the stance a bit, locate the shine, whether it is directed towards midwicket or cover, delay the movement as late as possible, lower the back lift and not shuffle too much across the crease.

Sadly, the Bangladeshi batters failed to apply such techniques and were unsure about the destination of the ball after landing on the track and the outcome was not chummy at all.

Thirdly, England were smart enough to set up the Bangladeshi batsmen. As, for example, Mahmudullah was set up by Stokes intelligently.

The first ball of his 45th over was a beauty from a back of a length and the second one was another good ball, but till the 51st over, Stokes bowled almost 8-9 balls outside off from a length, apart from dishing out some late swings to Mahmudullah. He hammered one for four and felt Stokes could be neutralised by targeting the balls outside off.

In the 51st over, Stokes’ first three balls to Shakib were good ones from back of a length and outside off with a hint of reverse swing.

In the fourth ball, Stokes, who gave Mahmudullah the false sense of security that he will be easy to hit outside off, pitched one way outside off at which Mahmudullah poked at and the slip fielder took the catch to pile more pressure on the Bangladeshi batters.

The second session sapped away Bangladesh’s vim and even the likes of Shakib Al Hasan failed to rise to the occasion as it was Chris Woakes who carried on the good work of Stokes to dismiss Bangladesh’s last two hopes, Shakib and Shuvgata Hom.   

Lastly, Bangladesh play fewer Test matches against the big teams and quality attacks. Had they played enough Test matches and faced such high-quality pace bowling regularly, they might have developed the art of resolve to survive the tough passages of play and polish their technique against reverse swing. 

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