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Bangladesh cricket team transform from cubs to tigers in art of sledging

Bangladesh, who registered a historic 20-run win against Australia in the first Test in Mirpur, have shown their ability to sledge Australia during the two-Test series.

cricket Updated: Sep 07, 2017 17:35 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Bangladesh vs Australia,Bangladesh national cricket team,Australia national cricket team
Bangladesh’s cricket team showed that they could sledge Australia and compete on equal terms during the two-Test series that ended 1-1.(AP)

At the start of the 21st century, minnows were bullied on and off the pitch by superior teams. On the field, they had better skills. They had their moments but they never achieved it consistently. The art of sledging belonged to the big boys while the minnows were only the victims. The idea of sleding, as legendary Sunil Gavaskar put it at a conclave earlier this year “was to disrupt a cricketer’s concentration”.

For years now, Australia had been leading the way, with their on-field sledging being an added factor to overcome along with their world-class cricket. However, others learnt the art sooner or later and it’s more of an equal world when it comes to words being exchanged.

Bangladesh, who have grown from being minnows to giant killers to a force to reckon with, proved that they won’t shy away when it comes to having a go at the game’s best.

In the first Test at Dhaka, Bangladesh defeated Australia by 20 runs to clinch their first victory over Steve Smith’s side for the first time. In the match, Bangladesh’s senior pros could be seen getting involved in some verbal spats. The time had come. It wouldn’t be one-way traffic anymore.

“As a captain, I don’t encourage [them] to do anything that gets them into trouble, especially after the introduction of demerit points,” Bangladesh ODI skipper Mashrafe Mortaza was quoted by ESPNCricinfo.

“We might end up losing a player ahead of an important match, which isn’t ideal. But I would always tell them to look into the opposition’s eye when they are looking at you. Before 2015, we didn’t have a significant win under our belt. But in the last two years, I think we have played fearless cricket but that doesn’t mean we will abuse anyone.”

Opener Tamim Iqbal earned a demerit point from the ICC after he had a war of words with the umpires and for his gesture at Matthew Wade after the latter was dismissed.

But Mashrafe said this was a gradual change over the years but he wanted to ensure it’s used only as a tool to reply to the verbal jousts and not to spark off tension.

“I think it really started around 2015, after the World Cup,” Mashrafe said. “We were prepared to go toe to toe in every match. But one thing that we don’t do is start the conversation in the field. We celebrate a wicket usually and only reply to what they have to say. Look, we don’t think that we can win a game through sledging. Most of our opposition have been doing it for years. What I believe is that when you are out there, you have to look them in the eye.”

Mashrafe, himself has been a part of that transformation. The skipper, who retorted meekly to Pakistan’s Aizaz Cheema blocking his second attempt at a run-out in 2012, could be seen giving Jos Buttler a proper send-off last year. “I think the England incident went on to for too long and I had to step in,” Mashrafe said. “But it wasn’t all one-sided. Both sides had their say that day but it should have stopped earlier.”

First Published: Sep 07, 2017 17:31 IST