The thriller that was the World Cup final still hasn’t sunk in for the 30 players at Lord’s and the many fans who watched it, yet just 12 days later the first post-cup ODI will take place between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in Colombo.
Mahmudullah smears the ball past the wide mid-off for a boundary.
That very boundary off Ashok Dinda sealed an unforgettable win over India in the 2012 Asia Cup. That same year Bangladesh made it to the finals, missing out to Pakistan by a whisker.
They reached the finals a couple more times in Asia Cup, but India proved unbeatable for them. In between those, there were Test wins against Australia and England.
Despite harsh losses, Bangladesh kept elevating themselves with cutthroat performances. Not the best standing in the 2019 World Cup, but Mashrafe Mortaza’s men made sure that his side goes down by pushing the best teams to their limits.
It went on to show that Bangladesh would never be the same side after the mega tournament. They prevailed over South Africa and West Indies convincingly. They couldn’t have come much closer to outclassing the five-time champions Australia.
Central to their spirited display stood Shakib Al-Hasan’s all-around skilfulness along with Mushfiqur Rahim’s resolve and level-headedness. However, their performance with the ball and in the field still had plenty of loopholes.
The masterstroke of Al Hasan’s promotion to number three brought overwhelming results; however, the veteran had enormous pressure to deliver at times. Amid the doom and gloom, the Tigers were left with plenty of positive takeaways.
The upsurge had nowhere to go but to rise further. Despite their devastating defeat against Pakistan in their final league game in the World Cup, Bangladesh had the backing to put on an impressive show.
Unfortunately, the performances at the World Cup seemed nothing more than a surge. The ancient woes resurfaced and made it look like Bangladesh hadn’t learned from their mistakes.
Tamim Iqbal, having installed as captain for the injured Mashrafe Mortaza, looked listless and crestfallen as captain. As much as the opening combination got them off to flying starts, it diffused considerably. Iqbal had no choice but to come good.
Bangladesh’s highest run-scorer started his tour, becoming the victim to a quintessential Lasith Malinga yorker. As he poked two deliveries outside off stump and teased his luck, his luck gave away too.
But the big question remains – did Bangladesh went defensive by resting Shakib Al-Hasan? The all-rounder undeniably hit the peak form, staying on track to steer his team to heights that they may have never seen before. In his new batting position, he unquestionably deserved an extended and a continuous run.
The overdependence on Mushfiqur Rahim got palpable with each passing game. Mahmudullah exemplified shades of returning to form in bits and pieces in the World Cup, however, kept sinking in as the series progressed with scores of three, six, and nine. It is a testament of how far have Bangladesh come and by their deeds how distant they push themselves back.
Reality sunk in, and the Tigers had few batsmen to boast who could show the grit and consistency.
The little steam in bowling they possessed got substantially reduced when their only regular wicket-taking option – Mustafizur Rahman, missed the third one-day. But barring the crafty left-armer, they lacked the wicket-taking alternative, and merely had pacemen and at times spinners who would contain the runs.
The fielding, which led them substantially down in crunch matches, picked up from where it left. Bangladesh made themselves noticed in the big stages. They produced performances synonymous with magnificence. But to get themselves the attention and the exposure they desire, they have to cultivate renditions not only in major tournaments but also otherwise and more often.