A familiar story

S. DINAKAR

IT'S a frightening thought. About how these Bangladesh batsmen are going to fare in the two-Test series in South Africa.

Watching them fall like nine pins on a marginally seaming track at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground, against New Zealand, one feared the worst on tracks responding more to pacemen.

Four-wicket man Bond looks nonchalant as one of his victims, Khaled Mashud, walks back to the pavilion.-N. BALAJI

It was the last league game of the ICC Champions Trophy and, in fact, Bangladesh had done well to restrict New Zealand to 244. Yet, Bangladesh went home a disappointed lot, being bowled out for 77, the lowest score in the mini World Cup.

A side that competes in Test cricket lasted just 19.3 overs in a limited overs contest. It was a tame, meek surrender.

"We will have to bat better. We have to learn to play on seaming wickets," said Bangladesh skipper Khaled Mashud who too was guilty of poking at the ball outside the off-stump.

It was an afternoon when as many as seven Bangladesh batsmen perished to strokes outside the off-stump. Shane Bond did generate pace in his first spell but the Bangladesh batsmen hardly offered any resistance, appearing keen on giving practice to the slip cordon.

Kiwi left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori sneaks one in through the defence of Manjural Islam.-N. BALAJI

"Bangladesh will have to show a bit of steel in their cricket if they want to be up there with all the other teams," said Kiwi skipper Stephen Fleming after his team registered a crushing victory. He was speaking the truth.

Fast bowler Shane Bond, who probably will never pick four easier wickets in his career, played the role of a wrecker-in-chief and Bangladesh was reduced to 19 for five. It was not a happy sight to watch batsman after batsman walk back to the pavilion without offering any resistance.

Only Tushar Imram, who batted positively against Australia as well, played a few attractive strokes in his 20, otherwise it was nightmare in daylight for Bangladesh.

Pacemen Jacob Oram and Kyle Mills picked two wickets each, while left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori, a fine bowler, chipped in with two.

More than the ease with which New Zealand dismissed Bangladesh - that was always on the cards - it was the quality of slip catching that would have pleased the Kiwi team-management.

Mohammad Ashraful (third from right) has just dismissed Chris Harris. Wicketkeeper Mashud and Fahim Muntasir, too celebrate.-N. BALAJI

Nathan Astle took an absolute blinder at second slip, leaping high and plucking the rapidly travelling snick with his left arm stretched up. This would easily be among the catches of the tournament.

Then Fleming came up with a good effort, diving to his left in the slips. 'Keeper Lou Vincent - the Kiwis too are trying out the experiment of asking a specialist batsman to don the big gloves - thereafter took a low diving catch to dismiss Khaled Mashud.

However, the Kiwi team-management would have nothing to be pleased about the side's batting earlier in the day. In fact, New Zealand huffed and puffed before reaching 244, appearing to lack motivation after the setback against Australia, which ruled them out of the semifinals.

Astle, quite the most important batsman in this Kiwi line-up, departed early, slicing a drive to point, and the rest of the batting lacked inspiration. Matthew Sinclair, batting at No. 3, had to work hard for his 70, but at least he applied himself.

It was only some lusty hitting by Oram towards the end, and useful hands from the lower order batsmen, that took New Zealand close to 250. In the Bangladesh bowling, left-arm paceman Manjural Islam, left-arm spinner Mohammed Rafique and leg-spinner Mohammad Ashraful, managed to make a mark. The side fielded reasonably well too, but the batting came as a huge disappointment.

After the match Fleming, reflected on the defeat at the hands of Australia. "We were in the same pool as Australia and it was a tough game for us. It's all about pressure. If you don't absorb the pressure you are not going to be in the ball game. You got to be on song from day one. If you get behind in a game, it's very hard to catch up as we found out against Australia." He knew only too well that a victory over Bangladesh would not count for much.

The scores:

New Zealand: S. Fleming c Jubair b Mahmud 31; N. Astle c Kapali b Manjural 5; M. Sinclair c Rafique b Ashraful 70; L. Vincent c Mashud b Mahmud 1; S. Styris (run out) 26; C. Harris c Mashud b Ashraful 26; J. Oram c Imran b Ashraful 30; D. Vettori c Muntasir b Manjural 16; K. Mills (not out) 3; S. Bond st. Mashud b Rafique 8; P. Hitchcock (not out) 2. Extras (nb-2, w-14, b-1, lb-9) 26. Total (for nine wkts. in 50 overs) 244.

Fall of wickets: 1-11, 2-77, 3-79, 4-119, 5-167, 6-198, 7-216, 8-232, 9-242.

Bangladesh bowling: Manjural 8-1-30-2, Jubair 5-0-46-0, Mahmud 10-0-41-2, Rafique 10-0-39-1, Muntasir 10-0-40-0, Kapali 2-0-12-0, Ashraful 5-1-26-3.

Bangladesh: J. Omar c Astle b Oram 1; Al Sahriar lbw b Bond 0; M. Ashraful c Styris b Bond 1; T. Imran c Astle b Oram 20; A. Kapali c Fleming b Bond 2; K. Mashud c Vincent b Bond 1; K. Mahmud c Fleming b Mills 11; M. Rafique c Harris b Vettori 17; F. Muntasir c Vincent b Mills 5; M. Islam b Vettori 10; T. Jubair (not out) 1. Extras (nb-3, w-4, lb-1) 8. Total (in 19.3 overs) 77.

Fall of wickets: 1-2, 2-8, 3-8, 4-16, 5-19, 6-37, 7-46, 8-56, 9-70.

New Zealand bowling: Bond 5-0-21-4, Oram 6-1-32-2, Mills 5-0-13-2, Vettori 3.3-1-10-2.

A genuine strike bowler

YOU can tell a match-winner when you see one. Shane Bond is one for sure.

No, it's not because he brushed aside the Bangladesh top-order at the SSC. Even a run of the mill paceman could have done that.

It is more due to the basic qualities in his bowling. He does bowl at impressive speeds - he is only a shade below Brett Lee and Shoaib Akhtar in terms of pace - and moves the ball both ways.

Bond has it in him to inflict damage on much bigger sides and we saw evidence of that in the WSC series last year in Australia where Bond troubled the Australians and the South Africans with his speed and bounce.

The Kiwi bowling has invariably been efficient and it has been backed by sharp fielding. However, the attack lacked sting on occasions with none to push the batsmen on to their back-foot, none to make them hop and weave.

Bond, with his firepower, has given the Kiwi pace attack that extra dimension. He is definitely quick.

Yet, his has been a career plagued by injuries, and the Kiwi team management wants to use him judiciously. At 27, and only in his second season in international cricket, he's a late developer.

However, his progress has been quick, the paceman picking up 26 wickets in just six Tests, winning a series for the Kiwis in the West Indies earlier this year, and making a big difference in the ODIs with his speed and that ability to send down toe crushing reverse swinging yorkers.

Against Bangladesh, he ended the match in terms of a contest in his first five overs - trapping Al-Sahriar in front with the batsman padding up to an incoming delivery, and snaring his other three victims outside the off-stump. His first four overs of 4-1-16-4 bore the stamp of a genuine strike bowler.

After the match, Bond chose to dwell on the game against Australia - "I think it's just the conditions here and the humidity does swing the ball around the bat. In conditions like these, some bowlers will be a handful for most sides. It was a shame we didn't have these conditions against Australia. It would have been an entirely different ball game then. Honestly, I didn't bowl with rhythm that I would have loved to. I look at guys like Glenn McGrath and Shaun Pollock who are world class and try to emulate them. I haven't reached their level yet."

It wouldn't be surprising, if Shane Bond gets close to their level.