We annihilated Zimbabwe in our very first game of 2018 and went on to chip our biggest victory, till date, against Sri Lanka.
Then, all of a sudden, we reverted to being a team that has always struggled with their batting. Falling prey to the Lankan Lions, the Tigers lost the tri-nation one-day cricket tournament final on Saturday. Sri Lanka clinched the championship title by defeating the home team, Bangladesh, comprehensively.
The series started for us with a win by six wickets against Zimbabwe, a side that later defeated Sri Lanka in the second game. Posting a massive total of 320, Bangladesh bagged a victory against Sri Lanka after restricting them at 157 only.
In tune with speculations made before the start of the series, as a fan favourite, the home side secured the final with a bonus point before even playing their remaining two matches.
The disciples of Chandika Hathurusingha pulled a huge comeback against Zimbabwe and managed to pull off another comeback against Bangladesh as well. While the Tigers seemed as daunting as ever with their winning streak, the Lankans shamed the home side with an 82 all out in their second encounter.
To make it even worse, they chased the target in only 11 overs without losing any wickets. Utilizing the momentum, the Lankans emerged victorious in the final, showing why they are one of the giants of cricket in Asia.
Failing to make a mark
Bangladesh had a few changes in the squad after the end of the Hathurusingha era.
Soumya and Taskin were out while the other promising players got called into the side to prove their calibre. Anamul failed to make use of that opportunity, coming back to open for the team after two long years.
The once reliable batsman of the team couldn’t manage a comeback in the national team -- but kept on making runs in the first class cricket and in BPL too. Sadly enough, Anamul Haque’s performance was lacklustre in the four matches that he had played. Similarly, the performance of finisher Nasir Hossain was below the mark as well.
The bowling side did consistently well, even in the final. As Mashrafe said in the post-match presentation, the first innings went as per estimation, but the game-changing moment was perhaps Shakib’s injury and Tamim’s early wicket.
What remains a point of lamentation is our yet to be quenched thirst to savour a championship in a tri-nation series, despite playing somewhat dominating cricket overall
Shakib Al Hasan scored crucial runs laying the foundation for the team coming in to bat at number three, his new position and the dashing opener Tamim had hit 252 runs in the tri-nation series.
The partnership of this duo mostly navigated the victories for Bangladesh in the series.
But, in both games that we lost, Tamim and Shakib were not much of contributors with the bat.
This, again, shows our dependency on a few key players.
The middle order failed miserably in the last few games when their durability was tested. However, Mahmudullah Riyad played till the end in the final despite losing his batting partner all too frequently on the other end.
Where’s the patience and maturity?
Yes, the pitch was not batting friendly as it seemed -- but that still doesn’t justify how the Bangladeshi batsmen demonstrated their impatient psychology and temperament. In hindsight, we do expect more from our experienced batting side.
We need to remember that, despite the availability of batting-friendly pitches all over the world, we are still playing on pitches where the ball comes slow.
Our players cannot play well on home soil, neither can they do good overseas on a completely different batting pitch.
Having said that, we did play good cricket throughout the series with positive achievements. Tamim managed to be the fastest cricketer to journey from the 5,000 to 6,000-run mark. We did relish our biggest ever win.
It was good to see Mustafiz back into his lethal form again. He became the fastest Bangladeshi player to take 50 wickets -- the performance of cutter-master was satisfactory and very economic.
What remains a point of lamentation is our yet to be quenched thirst to savour a championship in a tri-nation series, despite playing somewhat dominating cricket overall.
We still have a long way to go before we can fully claim the Tigers to be the strongest home team.
Needless to say, we need to overcome our existing flaws, and the key move for the players will be to bat more tactically and play longer innings.
As we embark on the test and later T-20 series, hopefully better days wait ahead of us.
Raihan Rahman Rafid is a freelance contributor.