The Financial Express

Does Naim Sheikh's consistency help?

Photo: ESPNcricinfo Photo: ESPNcricinfo

Naim Sheikh was thought to be the perfect partner for Tamim Iqbal in limited-overs cricket and his worthy heir in the long run. He showed promise in his first bilateral series which was against India. Since then, has been quite consistent in terms of scoring runs. 

Despite having the third-highest average among the Bangladeshi batsmen in T20 internationals, Naim Sheikh gets heavily criticised due to his strike rate issues. 

In T20Is, strike rotation backed with power-hitting is essential for any batsman. Naim lacks both, especially rotating strike. 

In addition, he tends to eat up a lot of balls while batting. His dot ball percentage being 43 per cent is in no way should be an opener’s dot ball percentage. 

A one-dimensional player, Naim favours the leg side and the square of the wicket-- usually faces problems in scoring all over the ground. His foot movement too is questionable which doesn’t make his batting look decorated. 

In the 22 innings he batted, Naim scored 570 runs at an average of 27.14 with a strike rate of 105.95. He contributed to 20.24 per cent of team runs in T20Is as of now, which is indeed praiseworthy. 

However, his runs came majorly from boundaries and sixes, which is estimated to be around 51 per cent. 

The first six overs of the batting innings i.e. the powerplay is the most crucial stage in T20 cricket. With the boundaries uncovered, batsmen usually want to make the best use out of it. 

Despite the opportunity, Naim Sheikh usually fails to capitalise on it. Consuming too many dot balls in the powerplay often puts pressure on the batsman at the other end. In usual circumstances, Naim's dot balls build pressure which has an adverse effect on the batsman partnering him resulting in wickets or a slow run rate. 

Undoubtedly, Naim is more consistent than the likes of Liton Das and Soumya Sarkar. However, when the team is chasing a huge total, his slow approach does little help to the team. 

At times when his side needs a boost or an acceleration, Naim Sheikh usually fails to deliver it. 

One fine example is his 38 runs knock off 35 balls against New Zealand in Napier, where Bangladesh was chasing 171 in 16 overs. Even though he contributed to the scoresheet, his batting approach and strike rate (108.57) couldn't do the team any favour. 

Nevertheless, in the Australia series, or the series against New Zealand in Mirpur, Naim's batting style was sustainable. In slow and sluggish wicket like that of Mirpur, where scoring runs isn't easy, Naim’s batting approach works fine. 

Hence, in order to evaluate Naim Sheikh's impact and his consistency while batting, it is important to judge the match situation and the circumstances in which he batted. 

Certainly, his innings in Napier and the knocks he played in Mirpur had different impacts on the team. He needs to work on his approach or the team might suffer big time. 

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