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Winning after enforcing the follow-on a special achievement – Shakib

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Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan called his side’s victory over West Indies in the second Test in Mirpur – capped by enforcing the follow-on and winning by an innings for the first time – a special achievement. The win helped the hosts seal a 2-0 series victory.

What made it special was how Bangladesh turned their fortunes around after suffering a series defeat by the same margin back in the West Indies only four months ago.

Shakib said he had demanded the best from his players, having delivered them a message to not forget how poorly they played against the same team in July. He said he was happy to see them respond strongly.

“This is the first time we enforced the follow-on in more than 100 Tests in 18 years, which is definitely something special,” Shakib, who has been involved in ten of Bangladesh’s 38 innings defeats, said. “We haven’t done this against smaller teams, so to do it against a higher-ranked side is an achievement. We obviously had a lot to prove after losing to them in that manner [in July]. I think we have done that at least at home.

“I would thank my team-mates and the coaching staff, for believing that it was possible. I was quite demanding of my players in this series. I wanted a lot from them. I think everyone contributed in their own way, but I saw everyone really wanting to contribute to the win.”

The series defeat in the West Indies was particularly scathing for Bangladesh as they were bowled out for 43 in the first Test, the lowest Test total since 1974. Bangladesh’s combined batting average of 12.60 was also the lowest in 63 years by any side, and even though they did wage a comeback by winning the ODI and T20I series, Shakib said a stronger riposte was always going to come through a Test series win over the same opponents.

“We never expected such a performance in the West Indies,” he said. “We held discussions after the Test series defeat there, and then came back strongly in the ODIs and T20Is.

“Since we didn’t do well in the Tests [there], we had this opportunity to do well at home. We wanted people to at least understand that it was a performance in their home conditions, and see that we could do the same in our home conditions.”

Shakib also praised his batsmen for making the most of good batting conditions in the first two days of this Test. Mahmudullah struck his third Test hundred, a bloody-minded 136 that spanned over six hours, while debutant Shadman Islam, Liton Das and Shakib himself struck half-centuries.

“Our batsmen have done well on good wickets,” Shakib said. “Both sides [Bangladesh and Sri Lanka] made plenty of runs in the Chittagong Test in January. Afterwards, we have played mostly on tough wickets, at home and in the West Indies. Even the opposing side didn’t reach 500. It is not right to blame the batsmen all the time.

“In this game, they believed in the plan put in front of them. We no longer prepare flat wickets on which we are expected to score 500 and draw the game. We try to win every game, and this changed mindset has taken us to a better place as cricketers.”



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Vernon Philander to miss Boxing Day Test against Pakistan

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South Africa seamer Vernon Philander is set to miss the first Test against Pakistan on Boxing Day after sustaining a hairline fracture on his right thumb. With Lungi Ngidi out of action until February with a knee injury, South Africa will go into the first of three Test matches with just three fit frontline quicks in Duanne Olivier, Kagiso Rabada and Dale Steyn.

Philander had recently returned to action following rehabilitation for a recurring ankle injury, that had flared up during South Africa’s trip to Sri Lanka in July, and had played in one of the early season rounds of the domestic four-day competition, as well as turning out for Durban Heat in seven of their Mzansi Super League matches.

“I really don’t even want to think about what would happen should there be another injury,” said South Africa coach Ottis Gibson.

All three of the remaining fit quicks will be playing in Sunday’s Mzansi Super League final, but they will not be part of next week’s round of domestic four-day cricket.

ALSO READ: Gibson not worried about Amla’s dip in form

“If you look at where we are, Steyn, Rabada and Olivier become very important to us. We just want to manage them as best we can. We’ve seen how Dale’s been going. I don’t want to say we’ve seen a transformation because he’s always been a top player, but he’s back to full fitness and performing like the player of old. KG (Rabada) as always is very important to us.”

“We’ve looked at a few bowling options over the past 14 months and we’ve got what we feel now is a very good bowling attack and group,” Gibson said. “You’ve got Steyn, Rabada, Philander, Ngidi and Olivier, who’s been in-and-out, but always in our thinking. That’s the making of a good attack in any form of the game. My job now is to keep them fit and fresh for them to be at their peak at international level.”



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India ‘surprised’ by soft signal on Virat Kohli catch – Jasprit Bumrah

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India’s players were “surprised” that Virat Kohli was given out on the field after Peter Handscomb claimed a catch off the bowling of Pat Cummins, according to Jasprit Bumrah.

A diving Handscomb appeared to scoop up a thick edge after Kohli drove hard at a full and wide delivery, but the decision was then referred to the third umpire, Nigel Llong. Llong was unable to find conclusive evidence, after extensively reviewing replays, to overturn the soft signal of out given by Kumar Dharmasena in consultation with Chris Gaffaney on the field.

But Bumrah said India were puzzled by the original decision.

“We were a little surprised by the on-field call,” said Bumrah. “Now it has been done, and it has been done. Now we will move forward with the game.”

Conversely, Nathan Lyon said there was no doubt in the minds of the Australian players that Handscomb had taken the catch cleanly.

“I wasn’t sure about the conversation between the umpires but, yeah, we thought it was out.

“Conversation was ‘great catch’.”

Kohli’s wicket fell at a crucial time in India’s innings, with India on 251 and trailing Australia’s first-innings total by 75 runs. The decision sparked a lively debate among fans and commentators alike and drew a strong reaction on social media in India.

ALSO READ: Bat, breathe, bat – the essence of Virat Kohli

Speaking on ABC radio, former Australia batsman Ed Cowan took an opposing view. “There is zero doubt in my mind that this catch has carried,” Cowan said. “Virat has made this a news story, and he shouldn’t.

“He should have the grace to walk off and say that was a fair catch.”

Kohli’s demeanour was animated through the day’s play. When he reached his century he held his bat up with one hand and made a talking gesture with his other hand. He encouraged the enthusiastic and noisy Indian contingent in the crowd and was front and centre for celebrations whenever an Australian wicket fell. There was also what appeared to be a colourful exchange between Kohli and Tim Paine as the pair walked off the field at the end of the day’s play.

Lyon played down the significance of the exchange.

“I think he just asked him where he was going for dinner that’s all,” Lyon said. “I’ve played enough cricket against Virat to know what he’s like.

“Virat’s Virat and I’m not worried about what he’s doing or what India’s doing.”

But Kohli’s animation throughout the day was enough to draw criticism from some, including former Australia batsmen, Michael Hussey.

“Virat Kohli is out of control out there,” said Hussey, speaking on Macquarie Radio. “He is revving up the crowd and he is going nuts when they take a wicket. I don’t like his attitude at the moment.”



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Afif Hossain, Zakir Hasan haven’t developed as expected, says Bangladesh selector

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Poor form has held back some of Bangladesh’s young cricketers who, at the start of the year, were touted for big things. Chief selector Minhajul Abedin said that Afif Hossain, Zakir Hasan and, to a lesser extent, Mahedi Hasan had been disappointing in domestic and representative sides since making their T20I debuts in February this year.

Afif is a left-handed opener who bowls useful offspin, once snaring Chris Gayle as part of a five-wicket haul on T20 debut. Zakir is also a left-handed batsman who keeps wickets and is also known for his fielding. Both Under-19s graduates have been billed as the next big stars emerging from Bangladesh but so far they have struggled to find a spot in the senior side regularly.

Mahedi, an offspinner who is useful with the bat, had impressed in the 2017 BPL along with Afif and Zakir. All three were doing well in the Dhaka Premier League List-A competition when they were picked in the T20I side in place of some senior players who were injured at the time.

“We had high hopes about Afif and Zakir but they have been quite disappointing, to be honest,” Minhajul told ESPNcricinfo. “They haven’t made use of their skill development as well as given game planning much thought. Afif and Zakir didn’t do well in domestic cricket or in the Emerging Teams Cup.”

Afif made two first-class centuries immediately after his T20I debut but, for Bangladesh A, he scored only 64 runs in six innings against Sri Lanka A and Ireland A. He has averaged 16.90 in the current first-class season, before making just 20 runs in the two Emerging Teams Cup matches.

ALSO READ: ‘As long as he is alive, Hope will play’ – Brathwaite

Zakir averaged 28.92 in 13 innings for Bangladesh A, before making three fifties in seven first-class matches this season so far. He made 69 in one of his two Emerging Teams Cup appearances.

By contrast, Mahedi has done very well in this season’s Bangladesh Cricket League first-class tournament, averaging 80.50 with bat and taking 16 wickets at 26.75. “He is not out of contention,” Minhajul said. “Mehidy Hasan Miraz is playing all three formats while Nayeem Hasan made a wonderful start to his Test career. We consider him [Nayeem] as Miraz’s backup but Mahedi is also one of the offspinners in our radar.”

The Bangladesh team management have instead trusted Nazmul Islam, Ariful Haque and Abu Jayed in recent times, with the trio regularly picked in the senior side. Nazmul has played all 13 of Bangladesh’s T20Is this year while Jayed has made an impressive start to his Test career. Ariful meanwhile has made debuts in all formats this year.

One thing in common among Nazmul, Jayed and Ariful, as well as Mohammad Mithun who made his Test debut this year, is the length of time they have spent in domestic cricket. Afif, Zakir and Mahedi need a few more seasons in domestic and A-team cricket before they can have enough experience for their individual skills to develop, and to find consistency.

It answers a long-standing question in Bangladesh cricket: do they really need to give youth a chance at the top so quickly? Perhaps, given the evidence, it is more important to let these young cricketers succeed and fail in domestic cricket for a few years before being picked at the highest level.



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