• Thursday, Dec 12, 2019
  • Last Update : 07:32 pm

Early promise fizzles out in the end

  • Published at 05:16 am July 7th, 2019
Tigers
Bangladesh cricket team Dhaka Tribune/Md Manik from England

Now that the 2019 World Cup dream is over, the plans for the long road to the 2023 World Cup should begin in earnest.

Bangladesh’s 2019 World Cup semi-final dream ended Tuesday when they suffered a morale-sapping defeat against India at Edgbaston in Birmingham.

And their campaign concluded with a bitter defeat against Pakistan at Lord’s in London, which made the Tigers fans feel sorry and frustrated as Bangladesh had high hope of reaching the last four in the World Cup.

Such expectation was absolutely realistic as this squad was considered as the best team Bangladesh have ever produced in a world event.

Four players played their fourth World Cup in England and Wales – captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza, opening batsman Tamim Iqbal, all-rounder Shakib al Hasan and wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim while all-rounder Mahmudullah contested his third.

Added with the likes of some promising players, why wouldn’t the fans expect greatness this time around?

So the expectation was legitimate.

But how has Bangladesh really performed?

The tournament started in the best possible way for the Tigers.

However, their World Cup mission really started from the Ireland tri-nation ODI series.

That series was termed as a practice tournament before the World Cup.

The Ireland conditions were considered similar for the Tigers to prepare for the World Cup, and they played entertaining cricket in that series.

They started the tour with a humiliating defeat to Ireland Wolves in the practice match although, as the Tigers went from hot humid Dhaka to chilling, windy Dublin, the loss didn’t really set any alarm bells ringing.

But in the tri-series, Bangladesh were outstanding.

They played a good brand of cricket and clinched their first ever international series for the country. 

With that confidence, Bangladesh started their World Cup campaign and the beginning was picture perfect.

They beat South Africa in their opening match at the Oval in London.

The dream start could have extended had Bangladesh beaten New Zealand too.

There was indeed a chance to beat the Kiwis, but costly errors in fielding, a missed run out chance of Mushfiq in a crucial moment proved costly and New Zealand escaped narrowly.

Bangladesh camp knew that they had missed a chance, and that missed opportunity would go on to have a big impact in the tournament for the Tigers.

The England game was a horrible performance in terms of bowling and fielding.

It looked a lost cause while England were piling the runs in the first innings and eventually, Bangladesh suffered a big loss.

The only thing Bangladesh achieved in that game was Shakib’s brilliant hundred. 

The next game against Sri Lanka was washed out and the calculation for the semis got more complicated for Bangladesh.

The Tigers then produced a strong performance against the West Indies in Taunton, continuing their winning streak over the Caribbean side.

Shakib was magnificent with the bat again with a brilliant unbeaten hundred while chasing 322.

The young Liton Kumar Das scored an impressive 94 on his return to the side.

The Afghanistan game was tricky but Bangladesh won convincingly in Southampton and once again, Shakib produced a magnificent all-round performance.

In the next two games, the equation was - Bangladesh had to win both, against India and Pakistan, and in the end, the Tigers lost both, chasing 315 and 316.

The semi-final hope ended with the India defeat, but the crushing loss against Pakistan looked more painful as, in the end, Bangladesh finished the World Cup in eighth position out of 10 teams.

But one man showed his class to the world yet again, and he is none other than the maverick Shakib.

He once again proved why he is the world’s No 1 all-rounder, and one of the best all-rounders of all time.

Be it with the bat or ball, Shakib was an outstanding performer throughout the tournament and has already become a strong contender for man-of-the-tournament.

Shakib finished the tournament with 606 runs in eight innings, thus becoming only the third player in history to score 600-plus runs in the World Cup after Sachin Tendulkar (2003)and Matthew Hayden (2007).

He also took 11 wickets in eight innings.

He is the first ever player in World Cup history to score 500-plus runs and take 10-plus wickets.

Shakib was the lone warrior for the Tigers actually.

No other batsmen were able to give him support on a consistent basis.

There was a lot of expectation on Tamim as he was statistically one of the best openers of the world in the past two years with an average of 55 in ODIs.

But the experienced Tamim could not do justice to his potential and got starts in almost every innings, but lost his wicket without scoring big.

Tamim scored 235 runs in eight innings with an average of 29.37 and strike rate of 71.64.

He batted well against the West Indies and scored a half-century against Australia, but that was not enough bearing in mind his talent.

Considering his form and record in the UK, that was not the best of performance from Tamim by any stretch of the imagination.

Soumya Sarkar’s performance at the top was even poorer.

He was not in form at all throughout the tournament.

He scored 166 in eight innings with an average of 20.75.

He totaled three fifties in the tri-series but failed to register even one in the World Cup.

In most of his innings’, he also got set before losing his wicket when a big score was needed.

Mushfiq played well in the tournament with 367 runs in eight innings, but lost his wicket in crucial period in the last two games, which were the most important.

Actually, it was the same story repeated over and over again.

Shakib played well at one end while the other senior batsmen got set at the other, only to lose their wicket in the mid 20s or 30s.

It perfectly summed up Bangladesh’s batting in the whole tournament with the exception of the West Indies match.

Sensible batting in the last two games was the order of the day, against India and Pakistan, but our batsmen failed to rise to the occasion, except Shakib.

As far as bowling is concerned, Mashrafe was a total flop in the tournament.

Just one wicket in eight innings shows just how much Mashrafe struggled throughout the competition.

A lot of responsibility was on bowler Mashrafe as, statistically, he was one of the main strike bowlers for Bangladesh in the last two years.

But the captain struggled big time and it seemed, he was not fully fit with his old hamstring injury.

Saifuddin (13 wickets) bowled well in a few matches, but he was frustratingly inconsistent.

Mustafizur Rahman finished the tournament with 20 wickets, and he took back-to-back five-fors against India and Pakistan.

But surprisingly, none of his 20 wickets came before 35 overs in any of the games.

He took all of his wickets in the death overs.

His slog overs bowling was brilliant no doubt, but during his opening or second spell, he was unable to manage a single scalp.

And that was one of the major problems for the Bangladesh bowlers.

Bangladesh bowlers hardly managed to initiate breakthroughs in the first 20 overs. 

Every time the opponent were off to good starts in the first 15-20 overs, the game became more and more difficult for Bangladesh. 

Mehedi Hasan Miraz bowled well with tight lines and lengths.

He got only six wickets but his economy rate, 5.08, as an off-spinner on batting friendly pitches in UK conditions proved to be handy.

Perhaps a few more wickets would have been helpful, but he did his job well.

Fielding was poor in quite a few games and no doubt, the Tigers need to improve a lot in this sector.

Bangladesh won two matches in the 1999 World Cup, against Scotland and Pakistan.

They went winless in the 2003 World Cup.

In the 2007 World Cup, Bangladesh won three games, against India, Bermuda and later, South Africa. 

In the 2011 World Cup came three wins again, against the Netherlands, Ireland and England.

And in the 2015 World Cup, the Tigers again won thrice, against Afghanistan, Scotland and England.

Now in 2019, they yet again won three times, against South Africa, the West Indies and Afghanistan.

So where is the improvement?

Considering the fact that Bangladesh had the best possible team in history, and a nice blend of experience and youth, the Tigers should have performed better and sealed a semi-final spot.

Yes, Bangladesh played a good brand of cricket.

In some matches, they went very close and gave the opposition a tough fight.

In some moments however, luck did not go their way.

The critics and spectators from the other nations praised Bangladesh for their improved performance.

But in the end, their tournament ended with seven points in nine games.  

Yet again Bangladesh won so many hearts.

Perhaps it was a good time to achieve something more than just winning hearts.

World Cup triumph is still a wild dream for the Tigers, but keeping in mind the team, their strength and experience, at least semi-final qualification was on the cards.

But unfortunately, that did not happen.

At least, the Tigers should have produced a better performance in their last game against Pakistan.

A strong display at Lord’s could perhaps have ended Bangladesh’s campaign on a good note.

Both Bangladesh and Pakistan knew they were already out of the tournament but the latter, who lost against the former in their previous four meetings, showed their professionalism and exhibited a better performance in every department, while the Tigers looked lost. 

Bangladesh need to learn to win close matches in a competition to achieve something significant in future.

And there are many areas Bangladesh still need to improve on to claim something big in world tournaments, and become a proper competitive force in cricket.

Now that the 2019 World Cup dream is over, the plans for the long road to the 2023 World Cup should begin in earnest.