It’s true, a 300-plus score is always a difficult chase in an ODI. And although not in the best of form, still, it’s only fair to think that with 311, the scoreboard was slightly on the Lankans' side, as opposed to Bangladesh, and their chances of a win was on the cards. And to add to that, the history of no team chasing such a score in their land was another point to ponder.
But then there were a few elements in favour of the visiting side too. One of the biggest challenges while chasing any big score is the wicket. This particular wicket in Dambulla was the best that we’ve seen in this series so far. One of those that may be termed as “batting paradise”, with even bounce, no sideways or seam movement and no turn. Even the guile of Shakib al Hasan had hardly any impact on the Lankan batters.
Once in, it is easy for a batsman to play pre-determined shots - both vertical and horizontal; an ideal surface even for an out-of-form batsman. A condition that very much suits Bangladeshi batsmen’s aggressive batting style.
Understandably the margin of error for the bowlers on such wickets is really very small. Although some of our bowlers looked a bit expensive, the fact is other than Mustafizur Rahman, all bowlers bowled reasonably well.
Mustafizur’s cutters were less effective on this very skiddy surface as it didn’t offer much friction to create the desired bounce and deviation, which is supposed to be his main strength. This probably made him uncomfortable and indecisive and compelled him to bowl defensively; something that he’s not used to and didn’t work for him at all.
To be honest the bowlers should be given credit for keeping the score to a minimum in the last few overs. Taskin Ahmed bowled his heart out, especially in the last over. It’s not only the hat-trick that he should be given credit for, but more for not conceding runs in the last over. This outstanding over could easily have been the decisive factor of the match. The way our bowlers, with the help of some sharp fielding, got back the momentum, was really commendable. It shows our team’s “never say die” attitude and willingness to win.
The current form of our batsmen is also an undeniable factor. Top-order to middle-order to lower-middle order, there is a sense of confidence and hunger. They seem to be challenging their own performances in every match. Big partnerships, strike rotation, playing to a plan, fearless stroke play, and strong body language indicate only one thing - we’re maturing as a cricket team.
And this is where Bangladesh team are different now. They are able and hungry. And on Saturday in Colombo, they have the perfect opportunity to prove it by winning the last ODI and clinching an away series. It’s time to wrap things up.
The writer is an Elite cricket coach and analyst