Even though Afghanistan is still in the nascent stage, it has made quite a commotion in test cricket. Bangladesh cut a sorry figure by losing their only test match at Chattogram against them in four days, with even the rain gods failing to prevent the inevitable. It is not about losing, even if it was against Afghanistan, what was glaringly evident was the strong temperament shown by the visitors. Surely the tough exterior of the men from a war-ravaged country appear to be intimidating as far as their physical presence is concerned, but it is their cricketing sense and skills that simply made the difference.
Shakib Al Hasan, while expressing his lack of interest in leading the national side, could not have been more wrongly timed since he was the one player the whole nation was expecting in anticipation especially after his World Cup sojourn. The fact that he could not produce his best against the Afghans in the test match had absolutely nothing to do with the captaincy issue, but one would have thought that the man of the moment would yet again be the talismanic left-hander. The Rashid Khan factor made the batting line up paranoid but it was the complete ineptness on the part of even the seniors to not be able to negotiate the wrist spinners that led the team down.
It should be a matter of top priority as far as the administrators are concerned to reduce their dependence on spinners and start to give more impetus on fast bowling. It was a complete lack of strategic competence that the Afghans were allowed to dominate proceedings in our backyard. The think tanks were caught in between the dilemma of producing a spinning track or preparing a pitch that would assist the fast bowlers. The result was a placid wicket in which the wrist spinners reigned supreme. Because of lack of turn from the wicket the local bowlers were rendered redundant and that made life easier for the Afghan batsmen who not only dominated both the innings with the bat but their spinners on the other hand especially Rashid Khan were able to bowl to a plan and bundle out their opposition without a great deal of fuss.
Rashid Khan who not only became one of the select few like Shakib Al Hasan and Imran Khan to have won their debut test match as captain but also accomplished the rare feat of taking five wickets in an innings and also scoring 50 runs as well. This, besides being the youngest ever test captain after Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi was made captain of India after Nari Contractor was hit on the head and couldn't continue any further in their series in the West Indies in the early 60's.
It was a rather unfortunate ending to a series that would have given Bangladesh an opportunity to at least redeem themselves after their dismal performance in the test match, had they won the finals at Dhaka in the T20 finals which was washed off due to rain. Though it was uncertain whether Bangladesh could have been the winners or not, but the team got a bit of their rhythm back by beating both Zimbabwe and Afghanistan at Chattogram and it was the pacers like Saifuddin and Shafiul Islam who seemed to have found ways to get batsmen out during the T20 series while Shakib, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek and the young Afif Hossain had match-winning contributions in their victories.
The National cricket league which starts shortly ought to be the platform for some of the batsmen for acclimatising themselves to the longer version of the game, which essentially means occupying the crease. It is rather unfortunate that wickets on which the league matches are played are not necessarily conducive to produce batsmen of international pedigree yet players have to find out ways and means to enhance their skills before embarking on the tough tour of India where they get to play a couple of test and T20 matches. Facing Virat Kohli and company would be a different ball game as the Afghans found out in their solitary test match last year, in which they were outplayed within two days only. Bangladesh being more seasoned by now ought to at least improve upon their performances from the last tour in which there were few brilliant individual performances and from where they can take heart and start on a positive note.