Bangladesh played another match, proved another mismatch having another embarrassment and humiliation conceding another frustration.
Match: ODI # 2175
Result: Bangladesh lost to West Indies by 138 runs
Performance: Bowling: Good
Captaincy: Below par
Umpiring: Bangladesh suffered from ?Benefit of doubt?
Spectators: Bangladesh earned full points
Fans (Forum): Poor, frustrated, discouraged, aggrieved
Achievement: Revelation of unexposed wound.
I am not going to the details of each of the performance indices, but shall just touch the first four and focus on the last one.
Bangladeshi bowlers, particularly the 16 year old Nazmul Hossain earned appreciation from everybody. Paul Couper of Wisden wrote in his verdict:
"Bangladesh's bowlers bowled accurately, and by rights should have conceded about 240. Their fielders gave away the rest to allow West Indies to escape to 269. Nazmul Hossain, a 16-year-old seamer, bowled a superb spell of 7-1-20-0 with the new white ball, much of it walking the tightrope of a 7-2 off-side field. Like English county workhorses down the years he put the ball on a handkerchief-sized spot on a full length outside off stump, and found a touch of seam movement. He did it all with a whippy action, a little like James Kirtley's?. ? But there was hope in their bowling, and in a note in today's match programme, which informed readers that Bangladesh's population is 141.3 million. Probability suggests there are a few more Nazmul Hossains out there."
Mushfiq and Mahmud also bowled well, and again they were unlucky to get any wicket due to mediocre fielding. The most frustrated bowler was Mohammad Rafique, who was hit over the rope several times raising his figures in contrast to his past record. It is useless to mention that Tapash Baishya was the most successful bowler with a figure 10-0-58-2. Bangladesh, at least, need not to worry about this department right now, as it needs for the other departments.
Fielding in this match was much below expectation at this level. A lot of misfieldings, dropped catches unveiled the mediocre picture of Bangladesh fielding. In fact, there was a lack of proper organized fielding setup in line with type of bowlers. For example, at one stage there was no slip for pacers, giving away runs and boundaries.
Dropped catches were the feature of the day. The West Indies innings would have looked different, if those catches were not dropped, giving more credibility to our bowlers. Unfortunately, there were few edges, which were dropped by the keeper. Two catches were returned to the bowlers, none of them could be capitalized. However, some fielding by Ashraful, the run out by Tapash and the brilliant catch by Nazmul were the exceptions from the entire picture.
Bangladesh innings starting with an appalling collapse again proved how brittle our top order batsmen are. Not considering Aftab, the total run by the top five batsmen were only 21. The 5th wicket fell in the 9th over when the score was 26. They were getting out due to poor shot selection, unnecessary slogging, misjudging the line of the ball, having shots with crooked bats, which are unacceptable for the 'top order' batsmen at this level.
Only Nazmul earned appreciation
In recent times, it has become customary that the top and middle order will collapse and the tail-enders will save the blushes. This is the high time to find out the root cause of such brittle batting line-up. The sooner we find the cause (or causes) and take action, the better. It should be humiliating for the top and middle order batsmen to watch that their tail-enders are batting manifold better than themselves against the same bowlers. A total of 76 runs from Aftab, Mushfiq and Mahmud could not save Bangladesh from humiliations. In both the matches in ICC Champion's Trophy, Bangladesh batting proved that they remained the same underdog "Old Bangladesh".
Captaincy looked not sharp in this match. As I mention earlier, placing of the fielders were not done by merit of the bowlers. It was a repeated topic by the TV Commentators, raising question about captaincy. When Mohammad Rafique was getting smashed repeatedly, he would have been given a break by bringing Ashraf or the captain himself.
Bangladesh achieved in this ICCCT, 2004 nothing noteworthy except fresh humiliation. But in my view, this tournament has revealed unexposed wound of Bangladesh cricket, which needs an immediate treatment to heal it, before it aggravates beyond control.
Bangladesh cricket was improving with ups and dips after having the test status, and this improvement has taken a dynamic turn under high profile coach Dav Whatmore. Our approach and performance in test cricket is improving but we are lagging behind in ODIs. If it is assumed that improvement in test cricket will automatically improve our ODI performance, it will be a great mistake. These two forms of cricket are different by their nature and approach.
Here, my concern is the brittle batting line up of Bangladesh in ODIs. In past two series, the Asia Cup and ICCCT, Bangladesh has performed below par only due to batting failure. There was a time, when Bangladesh seemed to be comfortable with the batting, but today after so many efforts and improvements, batting in ODIs has become the most concerned and vulnerable department.
Presumably, from one point of view, batsmen of the top order are under a sort of psychological pressure of scoring more and at a higher rate in ODIs, which might lead to go for premature slogging, not caring for the merit of individual deliveries, etc. And from another point of view, batting technique is not getting improved.
Unfortunately it is a fact that, even some of our top order batsmen cannot bat straight with its full face, cannot judge the flight and line of the ball, cannot adjust with the bounce, even cannot play comfortably against spinners. All these tell about poor and unimproved batting technique.
A general coaching method is that if and only if, after prolonged training, a player failed to performed satisfactorily, he is allowed to play his "natural play" to get back the consistency. This means that he does not have the adaptability to new techniques and are relying, in fact dependant, on what he has learnt in his early days. Perhaps we should try to explore such methodology.
We have no choice; our backs are pegged to the wall. We have to bounce back from this situation; we have to find the root cause of such failures and get the remedy and grow confidence. We have to prove the world that what happened were just all flukes. We are the real Tigers; not one of the minnows-underdogs.
The author is a distinguished member of banglacricket forum and goes by the nick "Sam" - editors