Before the Asia Cup, many others and I had stated that success would be nothing less than beating Hong Kong comprehensively and beating one of India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka by any margin. Some thought that beating Hong Kong and playing well against the "big three" would denote success. I thought and still think, that 2 wins was minimum for success because though a close game is good, we eventually have to win. Might as well start now.
Based on the subsequent results, all of us concluded that Bangladesh had failed in the Asia Cup. While this is disheartening, I think the situation is quite healthy. Overall, we have improved. We do not have to mention our Test improvements as even our harshest critics universally accept them. But the prevailing public opinion in this forum is that in ODIs we have not improved much. I say that we have improved, maybe not a whole lot but we have improved. For example, our average score per innings is slightly better than it used to be, and can be even better if our top order would stop collapsing. And in terms of defense, when was the last time our opponents had scored at 6 an over at the end of their innings. Sri Lanka was scoring at nearly 7 an over when we last played them, but by the time they chased down our small target our bowlers had managed to get their runrate to under 6. Before Whatmore, our team would routinely give up 300 runs in an innings. Not so anymore.
So what is the criterion for success in the ICCCT? Well, I think it will be to win one game. Yes, beating either South Africa or the West Indies. I don't think it will happen, but that still is the mark of success. I suppose playing close games against them could be considered a success, but if we play close games only to lose them (and we have done this so many times) is it really success?
So in the likely event that Bangladesh loses both matches, and thus having two failed tours in a row, does it mean that our ODI status is doomed? Not so, provided that we have confidence that some day soon our mental and physical games will gel together and we will win. For Michael Jordan once had said, "I am successful because I have failed over and over again."
Here is what is needed to beat one or both of these teams. Our batsmen must click, at least 4 out of the top 6. That means that more than 2 ducks or 3 players combining for less than 30 runs will almost automatically doom us. If everyone contributes, then we need about 180-220 from the top 6. A minimum of 240 is required to win if we bat first. If, as is likely, one or more of our batsmen flounders (gulp) then at least 2 batsmen need to have big innings (at least 50s). In particular, I would like to see Nafis, Ash, and Rajin put up 50s at least once during the two matches. Javed has proved he can bat, and Aftab and Rana are not quite ready to lead us in batting at the moment. However, solid contributions (at least 25) are needed from the latter 3 as well.
Bowling wise, Tapash has been quite tame lately; he has not been picking up wickets. Hopefully the pitches will assist him as they did during the Carribbean tour. The same bug has bitten Rafique. Lets pray that he can do some damage. Mahmud, I feel, has some English magic "jadoo" left from '99 to pull out from under his hat. I am skeptical about the contributions that Nazmul can make as a rookie. Bottom line is we need to restrict the opposition to 225 or less. This is possible. This is also the largest target I feel reasonably positive about our boys being able to chase down.
Let us pray for success, and after that lets us enjoy whatever is coming our way.