Bangladesh’s away woes stem from quest to win at home

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22 Nov 2019 | 08:12 AM
Rohit Sankar

Bangladesh’s away woes stem from quest to win at home

Bangladesh's contrasting fortunes home and away



Bangladesh has won just four Test matches away from home. Two of them came against a depleted, second-string West Indies side in 2009, while another came in Zimbabwe in 2013. Their only major Test win outside home can be put down to their win over Sri Lanka in Colombo in 2017. As they embarked on this Indian tour, Bangladesh knew their task was one filled with thorns. Compounding it was the absence of stalwarts, Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan.   

Sunk knee deep, Bangladesh appointed Mominul Haque as their skipper, a batsman who perfectly symbolizes Bangladesh’s issues away from home. Mominul has an average of 43.8 at home while it drops to a lowly 16.75 away from home since 2015. Handing him captaincy responsibilities was perhaps premature, and even more surprising when they had someone with captaincy experience in Mahmudullah Riyad.   

The lashing at Indore was always along expected lines given their woes outside home. Where exactly does the problem lie, though? 

Without much fuss, we can point at their over-reliance on spin as a major reason for their overseas debacles. 

At home, in their last two Tests, Bangladesh have fielded all-spin attacks and perhaps the issue lies rooted there. In their quest to win matches at home, Bangladesh have made pitches overly conducive to spin, and though most results have still gone against them, visiting teams now don’t come to Bangladesh assured of winning the series mainly because of the conditions that are tailor-made for their spinners.   

A look at team batting averages – both home and away – since 2015 reveals that Bangladesh’s home average is nearly in sync with that of their away batting average. While they average higher at home, the difference is not significant enough like Australia, India or South Africa. 

Moving to the bowling numbers, we recognize where exactly Bangladesh’s problems are rooted. Even as India’s bowlers wrapped them up in quick time at Indore, none of Bangladesh’s bowlers, except Abu Jayed, was threatening. While this was along expected lines again, the fact that their spinners, Taijul Islam and Mehidy Hasan Miraz, did not induce too many false strokes is worrying, for these same bowlers do a fine job at home.

A look at how teams have fared with the ball at home and away since 2015 show how far back Bangladesh is. They average 56.53 with the ball in away Tests, the worst in the world. This is in sharp contrast to their numbers at home – an average of 30.85. 

The huge bridge between the numbers show that Bangladesh have leaked way too many runs away from home without picking up wickets. This is further reinstated by checking the strikes rates, which are again the worst in the world away from home. 

The difference between the averages and strike rate is so massive that clearly Bangladesh have issues that need to be addressed immediately.
Bangladesh bowlers home bowling average since 2015 – pace: 52.8; spin: 28.2
Bangladesh bowlers away bowling average since 2015 – pace: 62.4; spin: 51.9 

Split the numbers between pace and spin and you see that neither the tweakers nor the pacers have been potent away from home. That said, the home average of spinners is overly impressive while pacers continue to languish well behind. In fact, it can safely be said that Bangladesh’s bowling average at home is saved by spin for the pace bowlers have been very poor. Since 2015, Bangladesh have taken 235 wickets in home Tests. Of these just 25 wickets (10.63%) are by pacers. The rest 89.36% have come from their spinners. That hasn’t translated into better numbers for spinners away from home either. 

None of Bangladesh’s bowlers, save Shakib and Jayed to an extent, have a decent away record since 2015. In the four Tests Bangladesh have won abroad, their spinners took 55 wickets at an average of 22.5 and a strike rate of 50.9. In these very matches, the pacers totaled 23 wickets at an average of 35.6 while striking nearly every 70 balls. This shows that Bangladesh still need their spinners to win away from home, but the fact is that they haven’t been doing all that well, which explains the low number of overseas Test wins. This is as clear an after-effect of their spin domination at home as any.
While sub-continental teams are known to choke visiting sides with spin, Bangladesh have overdone it to the extent that they don’t even do well within Asia if it’s outside Bangladesh. Since 2015, their spinners average 56.86 in Asia when playing outside home. But in other continents, they average a touch better at 48.42. 

Playing on doctored home pitches have affected Bangladesh’s efficiency away from home. It is not that the players lack skills when they arrive. The skill and talent isn’t nurtured and in the urgency to become a major Test playing nation by dominating at home, Bangladesh have pulled themselves back several years.

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