Any cricket series has its share of climax and anti-climax. Asia Cup seems to have found its rather early. While there have been some brilliant performances with the ball, it is the green pitches at the Sher-e-Bangla National stadium which have foxed all the visiting teams.
The Asian tourney has had an added relevance this year when the Asian Cricket Council decided to make it a Twenty20 event, keeping in mind the forthcoming World Cup in India. The conditions were expected to be similar to India and for that reason the event was considered to be the dress rehearsal for the mega event. All the matches here, however, have been low scoring affairs. In the first four matches, teams batting first have scored 172, 166, 129, 133 and 83.
The swing and seam here have made life difficult for the batsmen and Mohammad Aamir showed against India how devastating he can be in such favourable conditions. Strokemaking has been a challenge in these conditions where a batsman has to wait till the end before committing to a shot.
India captain MS Dhoni was blunt in his criticism of pitches after their five-wicket win over Pakistan. His bowlers had folded up Pakistan for 83 but not before Aamir set panic in the ranks during his sensational four overs. Before the toss, Dhoni had claimed the pitch was even greener than the one they had during their opening games against Bangladesh.
“We scored 166 in one match but frankly we were going to score 140,” Dhoni said. “Other than that there have been low-scoring games which I feel is not that good. We thought it would be good practice ahead of the World T20, so it's not a good practice in terms of hitting but yes in terms of respecting the conditions.”
Dhoni felt such low scoring games don’t provide fours and sixes which pull crowd to the stadium. He asserted that low scoring games should at least be having a score of 130 or 140.
“The reason why people love T20 is the sixes and fours. At the same time you don’t want 80s and 100s. Low scoring should be 130-140 and high-scoring can be 200 or 240. In a way, it's good for us because we are a side that plays aggressive cricket. What it does, it pushes us to respect the conditions. In the coming games the openers won't go with a set mindset,” he said.
“What happened in Australia, we knew the wickets were good, which is not the case here. I feel it's good practice for us. Whether it is good for T20 cricket that's difficult (to say). The amount of movement we have seen, it is very difficult to get the big shots.”
Even Sri Lanka captain Lasith Malinga after his match-winning figures against UAE expressed his surprise. “We were not prepared for this wicket in Bangladesh,” he had said.
UAE coach and former Pakistan bowler Aqib Javed, too, was taken aback by the scorching deck at the Sher-e-Bangla. “The wicket here has surprised us all. Because if you see the track at Fatullah, the pitches are as flat as they can be,” he said.
The teams, till now, were training at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium at Fatullah but from now on will be training at Sher-e-Bangla. It is believed the move has been made at the behest of the teams, who would naturally prefer to train on conditions offered during the matches besides avoiding the tedium of long travel.