The 2-match Test series left the Bangladeshi team completely vulnerable. Batmen?s weaknesses to fast Bowlers were viciously exposed. The captaincy issue was more in doubt as Khaled Mahmud consistently failed to perform. The reputation of him motivating the whole team to perform at their best was also questioned by the heavy loss in the second test. Mashrafee is out for 8 months and it turned out Rafique also was carrying an injury. Frankly, things didn?t look really good for us.
Practice ODI (Dhaka, Novemeber 5, 2003) ? The National Side was out of action for a while as the BCB Development Squad took on England XI, led by Adrew Flintoff. The big man flew in with several other English players for the ODI fixture and they walked out to face the ?BD Boys? for a field day. English pacer James Anderson was among the new inclusions. Definitely this was not considered good news for Bangladesh. Out of form Mohammad Ashraful was given an opportunity to face the English side and so was Talha Jubair. Both failed to impress. The English side went in to bat first and was all out before the allotted 50 overs. A great performance by the young guys! NOT! The English helped themselves to a huge total of 328 runs before the innings came to an end. Talha went very expensive for his 3 wickets. He gave away 67 runs in his 9 overs. Almost all the bowlers were whacked silly as the English batsmen enjoyed their day out in the open. One bowler however stood out with impressive stats ? Manjurul Islam Rana. The left arm spinner bowled his 10 overs for 42 runs and claimed 2 wickets which included the wicket of Solanki, the top scorer of the match. Flintoff was his usual self as he helped himself to 43 runs from 31 balls featuring 5 fours and 2 sixes. The BCB Dev Squad succumbed to defeat as they fell short of the English total by 167 runs. Mohammad Ashraful?s bad time with the bat continued as he fell for 6. Not impressive! The top order fell quickly. However, two innings stood out ? Mazharul Haque (41) and Manjurul Islam Rana (47). Rana?s performance was certainly impressive both with the bat and ball. He was selected for the ODI squad without much doubt. Flintoff gave out his warning as a bowler after taking 2 cheap wickets. Anderson took just 1 wicket but was economic.
First ODI (Chittagong, November 7, 2003) ? The recent improvement in BD cricket was only in the longer form of cricket. The One day form still had a lot to desire. Our top Batsman Bashar seemed really uncomfortable whenever he played one-days. Both Rafique and Mashrafee were out with injuries. We were still rambling for a decent opener. Kapali was clearly out of form. Well, way too many negatives led to the start of the ODI. Nafis Iqbal, one of the three debutants, was awarded the opening slot with Hannan Sarkar. The other two debutants ? Manjurul Islam Rana (he was in place of injured Rafique) and Jamaluddin Ahmed. Tapash was brought in for Mashrafee while Mushfiq partnered with the new ball. Bangladesh went into bat first. Nafis Iqbal was soon sent back to the dressing room after scoring 9 runs. He didn?t even hang around to face a single ball from Giles, who he had earlier dismissed off terming him as an ordinary spinner. Sumon followed soon. Hannan on the other end was holding out for a while for his innings of 30 runs, the top score of the BD innings. There was a major middle order collapse. Rajin fell for 2 and Alok, Mahmud and Mushfiq were all out for duck. The tail again responded to the SOS and some useful (? but not huge) contributions. A total of 143 runs in 44.3 overs. This was never a total one would expect to be defended with the weak and dented bowling attack that we took into the match. Trescothik made 28 with 5 shots to the boundary. Solanki and Trescothik fell to Mushfiq early on. But Manjurul Islam Rana made history for Bangladesh by being the first BD bowler to pick up a wicket of his first over in international cricket as he picked up the wicket of Vaughan with his third ball. After that it was all about Flintoff. He helped himself to another one day half century with the help of 9 fours and 2 sixes. Flintoff (55) and Colingwood (36) stayed unbeaten as England rampaged past the BD total with 24.3 overs to spare. 4/14 and then a 55 run innings was undoubtedly the performance of the match and Flintoff walked off with the man of the match award.
Second ODI (Dhaka, November 10, 2003) ? The second ODI was a day-nighter held in Dhaka. Moniruzzaman was given a chance to play for Bangladesh and much to the surprise of everyone he was in to replace Bashar, while the selecters opted for out form Alok and ofcourse the untouchable captain. Rafique was back to the side after getting over his injury and Jamaluddin was left out from the side that played the first ODI. BD went into bat first again. Hannan (0), Nafis (4), Moniruzzaman (0) and Alok (2) were soon sent back. Not the best way to start the ODI carrer for both Nafis and Moniruzzaman. A very well known top-order collapse from Bangladesh ? how many times have we already seen this? Too many times and its getting too hard to handle now. Rajin (37 of 77) and Mushfiq (22 of 93) however anchored for a while. But the fall of Rajin heralded another collapse and 3 more wickets fell on the trot. Manjurul Islam Rana ran himself out for the second time in his 2 matches. Mahmud again effortlessly failed to perform (this is probably the most constant performance by any Bangladeshi cricketer ever). The fast bowlers did the damage and once again we fell face forward to our weakness. Anderson, Johnson and Flintoff shared 6 wickets amongst themselves. The English reply was temporarily under trouble as Tapash and Mushfique got 3 quick wickets. But another thumping innings of 70 from 47 balls (9x4 and 4x6) from the Big Englishman saw England home with 7 wickets left and 22.2 overs to spare. Another M-O-M award for Flintoff and another loss for the Bangladesh team. The losing streak just keep getting bigger and bigger. However, Bangladesh had her own little hero. Respect goes out to Mushfiqur Rahman for his gritty 22 run innings and economic bowling on the trot. He bowled 10 overs straight for just 28 runs and also got 1 wicket.
Third ODI (Dhaka, November 12, 2003) ? Another day-nighter. The selectors reconsidered their surprise decision of dropping Bashar in the second ODI. He was brought back, Nafis was left out. Moniruzzaman was given the opening slot. The rest of the team remained unchanged with some shuffling in the batting order. Everyone expected a whitewash from England and England obliged. Mahmud was booed into the field when he came in for the toss. He won it though and Bangladesh went in to bat first again, like the first two matches. But performances from the Batsmen were much more organized as they posted a total of 182. Well not all that organized but compared to the last 2 ODI?s any good change was welcome. The start was bad as usual. Moniruzzaman was out for 1, caught and bowled by Anderson. Hannan and Bashar made 21 each. Rajin made 19. Mushfiq, promoted to number 5, fought hard for his 36. Alok Kapali got out for 2 again? third time in a row. Mahmud was run out for 11 (this brought out the biggest cheer of the day from the crowd). This might as well prove to be the last innings he plays for the National Side. Mashud scraped 16 before falling prey to Flintoff. Rana stayed not out for his 20 while Rafique made 13 of 10 balls (2x4). The English Bowling was nothing really impressive in the stats corner. It?s exactly what you would expect when the opposing team posts 182 runs. The English reply again faltered when Solanki fell to Mushfiq for 1. Trescothick and Vaughan steadied the innings for a while. Mushfiq claimed Vaughan (29) and Mahmud got Trescothick (50) and after that Collinwood and Flintoff saw England home, a seven wicket victory for England. Flintoff scored his third consecutive half century in style. His 50 came off 39 balls (4x4 and 4x6). Third M-O-M in a row and without any doubt the Man of the series award went to him too.
Thus, concluded the ODI series. A 3-0 whitewash. Hopes for a win in the next series against Zimbabwe seem bleak. But we are keeping our fingers crossed. Among all the bad results we still have some good things to look up to. Firstly Khaled Mahmud is sure to go this time. We found a performing all rounder in Mushfiqur Rahman. This guy made a strong stand with his bowling and batting and left an impressive mark. Rafique continues to be our strike spinner and a handy batsman in the tail. Hannan seems to be trying to make an effort as an opener. And a good find in Majurul Islam Rana. Hopefully he will continue to impress us as he did in the ODI?s. We missed Mashrafee in the second test and the ODI?s and we will miss him in the next series. Maybe it?s a wake up call for all the wannabe fast bowlers to try harder. We really need a few and we need them fast. The absence of Mashrafee made a huge difference in our bowling lineup. He is going to have his surgery in Australia very soon and lets us all take a little time to say a prayer for his well being.