With the 333-run defeat in the first Test being their worst start to a Test series in recent times, things have just gotten much tougher for Bangladesh as news broke yesterday that their best batsman and highest run-scorer in Test cricket, Tamim Iqbal, will in all likelihood miss the second Test against South Africa in Bloemfontein starting tomorrow. The Bangladesh team management have not made an official announcement yet — there is likely to be one today — and informed that there is still a slim chance that he will play, but in light of the evidence that stance reveals more of the team’s despair than any signs of optimism regarding Tamim’s condition.
It was learned from a reliable source yesterday that when he slipped while fielding on the second day of the first Test last Friday, the left-hander aggravated a thigh muscle tear sustained during the tour match at Benoni, played between September 21 and 23. According to the source, a specialist in Bloemfontein had been consulted on Tuesday and the upshot was that it would take up to four weeks to fully heal.
While players have played with niggles, and Tamim did that in the first Test, the specialist had reportedly advised against playing in the longer-version match as it places a greater demand on players’ bodies than limited-overs cricket. The specialist was however of the opinion that, with rehabilitation work over the next 10-12 days, Tamim may have an outside chance of recovering in time for the first ODI on October 15 in Bloemfontein.
Less than 48 hours before the toss, the signs during Bangladesh’s rain-marred practice session at the Mangaung Oval yesterday were far from promising. Tamim was gingerly and slowly walking along the boundary’s edge while the rest of his teammates were warming up by playing football. He had then gone up to the dressing room, and was not part of the team’s practice session in the indoor nets.
It was also learned that Tamim was touch-and-go for the first Test as well, a notion lent support by coach Chandika Hathurusingha’s concern while delivering throwdowns to the opener during the first day of practice in Potchefstroom, three days before the Test, as the Sri Lankan asked Tamim on more than one occasion if he was okay. Tamim faced only throwdowns the next day as well, and faced up to bowlers only on the eve of the Test.
Whether not playing him in the first Test would have given him the requisite rest to be fit for tomorrow is a subject of idle speculation, but it is obvious that a team management already without the talismanic Shakib Al Hasan — who sought and was granted a break for the Test leg of the tour — is desperate to the point of thinking about risking an already vulnerable player with barely a day’s practice, that too in a five-day match.
The desperation is understandable given the mauling they underwent in the first Test. But they can draw courage from the fact that the only time since their debuts that Bangladesh went into a Test without Tamim or Shakib, they scored their highest Test total against Sri Lanka at Galle in 2013.
To say the least, it is not the best message being sent out to a team that, as evidenced by their decision to field first in Potchefstroom, has a tendency to get spooked before a ball is bowled. If the management are thinking about keeping the opposition in the dark, talking about fielding a player who was unable to even jog less than 48 hours before the start of play only betrays Bangladesh’s unsure and intimidated mindset.
When asked about Tamim’s possible absence, South Africa pacer Duanne Olivier said yesterday that Bangladesh have other good batsmen and so will not be much affected if he does not play. It remains to be seen whether the Tigers share that confidence.
Source ||The daily Star||