Well, memorable series, for many reasons. Most of our informed fans brought up many of these trivia already. I just wanted to piece it together in one place.
- For the first time in our ODI history, Bangladesh scored 225 plus in 3 back-to-back matches. This never happened before. In the 100 ODIS, Bangladesh scored 200 plus runs only on 28 occasions.
- India never bowled us out in this whole series. How about that?
- We played all 50 overs in all 3 matches.
- For all his failures with the bat, Rajin ended up with the highest individual score of the series.
- On his return to international cricket, Mashrafe becomes the MOM on his very first ODI.
- Mashrafe also bagged the honor of the hardest hitter of our side with an average of 70 (not out in ODI 2). What a dazzling performer he has been.
- Coincidentally, the defeat was India?s unlucky 13th ODI against Bangladesh. As we all know, it was our auspicious 100th.
- All of Mashrafe?s heroics aside, good old Khaled Mahmud bagged the highest number of wickets (6) in the series, sharing the top spot with Agarkar. A great show for this aging fighter.
- Whatmore was given the Royal Chair for the first time. It seems he enjoyed it much, from the pictures.
- Our Athar Ali got misty at the moment of victory in the second ODI.
- Pilot had his signature crucial dismissals in all three matches. Bashar finally broke the shackles and had some runs. Ganguly had to swallow his words and was forced to field his best men for the decider. You see, Ganguly failed to read the message Bashar & Company tried to deliver him in the first match. The message had ?Narrow Escape? written all over it. He was caught in the second match.
- Well, Bangladesh?s performance was downplayed heavily by the Indian media and by the most if not all of those Indian staff writers at cricinfo?. I?ve seen enough ODIs in my life to tell you with confidence that it does not matter where that required run rate is, as long as you have enough deliveries to get the runs and a few big hearted hitters to take up the challenge. We have witnessed the improbable happens time after time in world cricket. To say that the first ODI was always beyond our reach is either amateurish or dishonest. The proof is in the pudding friends: a narrow 11 run escape at the end by India.
- Now, we all know by now how the second ODI went. Most of us even have witnessed the match, thanks to some innovative entrepreneurs and their novel business ideas. From my point of view, it?s the third match that held my interest in scrutiny and I want to tell you why.
- India?s tour-de-force with the bat was inevitable. They have as many as 6 of the worlds top 15 hitters in their side. These guys have had a rough year with the ODIs so far. Now, our Tigers have just mauled their team. It is as if this miserable year would not end for India. They really needed a high note to finish on. The series hung in balance! India?s batting fury was about to be unleashed. Now, we actually aided that zeal of their batsmen in the match. We were forced to rest two of our best pacers. Then the selectors gifted Ganguly with ?Wayward Delivery Hasibul?.
- Think of poor Mashrafe! Ok, ok, just think of your car with only one high performance Pirelli tire on it. What happens if you replace the other flat one (Taposh, in this case) with a spare wheel from your scooter? Can you even think of driving that wagon of yours? The mismatch at the opening was kinda? like that. This type of blunders by our selectors will surely be punished with passionate bludgeoning, as it did. Sad part is it will affect your good performers also, as it did.
- What were they thinking - our think tank? Let?s call them our ?Russian Roulette Trio?. Obviously some of them are dealing with a deep love for gambling. Let?s send them to Vegas, to get it out of their systems. I wish I could buy their argument for this decision for a cotton-picking moment. I?m sorry, I can?t.
So, let?s look at what happens when Bangladesh comes to bat in response, this time from a ?Macro? angle:
- They were not skittled out for less than 150, as many of you expected (be honest here now). They had surprising amount of fight left in them.
- The team scored 257 runs, a respectable response, by any standards.
- They played out the 50 overs, showing a new level of tenacity.
- The team stuck to the game plan more or less, throughout the innings.
- They showed a newfound hunger for discipline and runs.
So, they were not too complacent from the victory of the previous night, even after keeping the late night invitation by the Prime Minister and all. You see, Bangladesh will beat India in ODIs many times in the future. They will surely beat India in Tests also. As long as they take these partial successes as the stepping-stones towards more consistency. This time, the victory did not overwhelm them. Cricket here is growing up friends, wearing our favorite colors.
Now, dear fans, pray like anything that our team carries these elements over to this next series with Zimbabwe. This is important for us. Knowing our problems with that pesky short-term memory thing, nothing can be taken for granted. At times, it?s been very tough to keep faith and follow our charges loyally in recent past. No, no! No negative thoughts this time. This time, it?s different. This time, they?ll keep it together. This time, they will build on their achievements.
If Zimbabwe thinks Rafique is our only secret weapon (as poignantly pointed out by their coach today) boy, they?ve got a lot of surprises coming their way. Last year, I had a conversation with Nadir Shah, after he umpired the last domestic season in Bangladesh. I asked him about Rajjak Raj?s spin abilities. ?Beautiful!, Beautiful!?, he says, ?I haven?t seen too many like him, and I?ve seen the best of them?. If just a few of these talented young men click together, it will be a series to remember.