Bangladesh’s strengths and weaknesses are all on the table
Shakib Al Hasan is the best all-rounder and his batting performance at the World Cup has been incredible till date. But on Monday night, he delivered with the ball and took five wickets, all of them crucial match winners.
Afghanistan fought till around the 35th over. The 56-run seventh wicket partnership of Najibullah Zadran and Samiullah Shenwari could have threatened the Bangladesh victory. The commentators were also saying so and even mentioned jokingly that Athar Ali was looking a bit nervous.
But Shakib in his eighth over fooled Zadran, and Mushfiqur stumped out Afghanistan’s last hope. The next three wickets were just formalities, and Bangladesh won a confident victory. It was again the bowlers who decided the fate of the game.
A hard-working 262
Bangladesh had done well -- scoring 262 but it was very tough going. Tamim made 36 runs but faltered. Shakib’s 51 runs fell after another great partnership with Mushfiqur who made a life saving 83. Mosaddek’s 35 was critical for the last 10 over acceleration which made the total safe with Mushfiq.
Shakib’s comments about the innings: “I had to work really hard for the 50. Mushfiq played an important knock, without him we wouldn’t have gotten the runs. We knew it was going to be tough with their three spinners, so it needed a team effort.”
The 262 was good, but still not out of Afghanistan’s reach who tried hard knowing they were playing for pride.
“We are sinking, but we are going take a few down with us,” is a bitter message to send but Bangladesh was prepared. Samiullah Shinwari’s was 49 not out and was stranded at the door of a fifty as the team went all out, which sums up the poignant challenge of the losers.
Minus Shakib, the bowling is very worrying
Bangladesh needs to recognize its heavy-duty bowling limitations. Mashrafe and Mustafizur are really not a threat to any team and the way they went for initial runs had fans praying for Shakib who stepped in and changed the scene.
But let alone India, the Pakistan team is not going to be worried about Bangladesh’s bowling attack. Just like the Australians, they will go for neutralizing Shakib knowing the pace attack is almost non-existent, and the other spinners are not in the scary class.
However, only by beating Pakistan can they have a realistic shot at the semi-finals -- a chance if England loses one or two while Pakistan is gunning for the same spot.
If the answer is not in the arsenal, it must be in a strategy that can neutralize the bowling weakness. The strengths and weaknesses are now visible to all.
We end with Shakib’s own words on what makes champions: “I did work really hard before the WC, I was well prepared. The best I could ever be prepared. It’s paying off.”
Shakib, yes, but is the team prepared to realistically chase the semis?
Afsan Chowdhury is a journalist and researcher.