We were caught in two minds while facing Wagner – Mahmudullah


in Wellington • 

Neil Wagner’s favourites mode of dismissal has seen him take 15 wickets with the short ball in the ongoing series © Getty

Since his Test debut in 2012, Neil Wagner, the New Zealand pacer, has bent his back time and again to pepper the opposition ranks with a barrage of well-directed short deliveries and found success. His sustained short-ball tactics once again came to the fore when he dismantled Bangladesh’s batting unit in the just-concluded Wellington Test and ended up with nine scalps in the match.

Wagner’s success of using the short ball can be capsulised by the point that 15 of his 16 wickets in the series have come through his tried and tested formula. The way Bangladesh crumbled against Wagner’s strategy in both the Tests also opened up a slew of questions on their ability to play the short ball.

Mahmudullah, who cracked an enterprising 69-ball 67 in the second essay, said that their batsmen had been ‘caught in two minds’ of whether to pull or sway away from the line while facing Wagner. “In the first innings, Tamim and Shadman gave us a good start and even after Wagner started with his bouncer theory, we were handling him well but then we gave it away,” Mahmudullah said.

“We have to bat with more guts for longer periods. A number of our batsmen are playing half-hearted shots, or we are not committed. We are in two minds whether to play a shot or not. You need to back yourself. If you want to attack, you should know how you want to cope with their bouncer theory.

“They will probably have a fast wicket in Christchurch, so our batsmen have to be more responsible, particularly with three new bowlers in the side. I think it is the batsmen who should take more of the blame. We were bowled out twice inside two-and-a-half days.”

Pacers who can extract awkward bounce from a slightly fuller length tend to trouble the batsmen more. Wagner, too, has the knack of banging the short ball on a slightly fuller length and extracting disconcerting bounce. Mahmudullah pointed out that the track in Wellington offered more bounce, which in turn helped the left-arm pacer to bowl a tad fuller.

“We knew about him from the last time we were here. Now we are talking a lot about the Wagner factor. There was certainly help in the pitches for both sets of pace bowlers but we couldn’t utilise it as well as they did. I believe that our batsmen have the skill level to handle their short-ball tactics.

“Wagner had to pitch it really short in Hamilton while here he got bounce from a length slightly further up. It was easier to play or leave in Hamilton. Here there was a bit more in the pitch. He made use of it. He was successful to his credit.”

At the start of day 4, Ebadat Hosain and Abu Jayed found appreciable movement off the seam to put both Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson under pressure. Unfortunately for Bangladesh, Taylor was reprieved twice in a single over off the bowling of Jayed. Mahmudullah observed that if Bangladesh had taken their chances, it would have boosted the morale of the bowlers and given them the required momentum.

“If we had captured those chances, we could have given better momentum to the bowlers. It may have brought us few more wickets. They were playing with seven batters and with the kind of help that this pitch produced for the bowlers, it would have helped our guys.

“Jayed, Mustafizur and Taijul bowled quite well but we ended up conceding five runs an over. We have to find ways to bowl better in the next match,” he said.

© Cricbuzz


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