• JULY 01, 2022
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  • Anatomy of Tigers’ top-order woes

Anatomy of Tigers’ top-order woes

Bangladesh's batting form has been on steady decline for the last 12 months, but it has fallen off even more sharply in 2022. COURTESY

  • Sports Desk
  • Published: 23 Jun 2022, 11:08 AM

Tigers have tumbled from one difficult Test match to another in the last six months. They were clueless against spin in South Africa, hopped around against Sri Lanka's fast bowlers at home, and then crashed to yet another collapse in Antigua. ESPNcricinfo looks into what's gone wrong for them.

A batting nosedive

Bangladesh's batting form has been on steady decline for the last 12 months, but it has fallen off even more sharply in 2022. They have the lowest batting average of any Test team this year, having been bowled out for less than 200 in five out of 12 completed innings. This includes scores of 80 and 53 all out against South Africa. In the Antigua Test last week, the West Indies fast bowlers got all 20 Bangladesh wickets, and 13 of those wickets were to catches by the keeper or the slips cordon. Batting with unabashedly hard hands on pitches offering pace and bounce had once again brought about Bangladesh's undoing. The irony of the batting nosedive has been that Bangladesh began the year with a historic win over New Zealand in Mount Maunganui, where the batters showed collective patience and discipline. That display has proved to be a one-off rather than a sign of things to come.

Similar issues, similar lows

Teams have lost six or more ducks in an innings only seven times in Test history. Two of those innings have come from Bangladesh in their last two Test matches, in Dhaka and Antigua. In both Test matches, the top and middle order caved in to pace. Kasun Rajitha and Asitha Fernando, Sri Lanka's unlikely pace-bowling heroes, blew them away at the Shere Bangla National Stadium. A couple of weeks later, it was West Indies' turn. There were similarities between both innings: Mahmudul Hasan Joy was out in the first over, Mominul Haque succumbed to deliveries in the corridor outside off stump, and Najmul Hossain Shanto was bowled by balls that sneaked into the gap between his bat and pad.

A broken foundation

Poor starts have been the biggest contributor. In 12 out of their last 16 innings, Bangladesh have lost their fourth wicket with less than 100 runs on the board. On ten of those occasions, the score was less than 50. In this period, Bangladesh's top four have a collective average of 18.19, by far the worst of any team in Test cricket. The only thing that has kept Bangladesh going is their ability to recover from top-order collapses. The biggest recovery was in the Dhaka Test last month when Bangladesh had six ducks in the first innings, but ended up scoring 365 thanks to centuries from Litton Das and Mushfiqur Rahim. During the last 18 months, Bangladesh's fifth- and sixth-wicket pairs have produced more century stands (5) than those of any other team. They are also the team with the second-most runs and second-best average for the fifth and sixth wickets.

Mominul's unwanted record

The last top-five batter before Mominul to be dismissed for nine consecutive single-digit scores did it 134 years ago, and George Bonnor played no more Test cricket after that run of poor form. There's a debate over whether Mominul will get a break, but it is likely that Bangladesh's lack of a reserve batter will give him a chance to redeem himself in St Lucia later this week.

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