• Tuesday, Nov 12, 2019
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Are Tigers falling prey to over-expectation?

  • Published at 08:28 pm June 9th, 2019
Mahmudullah
Bangladesh's Mahmudullah walks back to the dressing room following his dismissal during their World Cup match against England in Cardiff Saturday Dhaka Tribune/Md Manik from Cardiff

In the country of 160m people, who are cricket frenzy, the demand of success is perpetual and in a tournament like the World Cup, a perfect stage of showing supremacy over other nations, the pressure is paramount

Over the last four years in the cricketing world, especially in the ODI format, Bangladesh are one of the most discussed factors. 

The team had been tagged as minnow since their inception in the arena three decades ago, but the stature has been changed with regular victories against the higher-ranked sides. 

And the reason behind this success was fearless cricket, a new brand, making Bangladesh a respectable force.

But that success created the pressure of expectation. 

In the country of 160m people, who are cricket frenzy, the demand of success is perpetual and in a tournament like the World Cup, a perfect stage of showing supremacy over other nations, the pressure is paramount.

That must have exerted a huge strain over the players as it is being observed in the tournament. 

Many people were pumping the balloon of hope so much that they envisaged Tigers as the potential champion.

To the Tigers’ credit, they won the first match, flooring a mighty South Africa side and with that result, the expectation transcended all sorts of limit with no bounds. 

However, while building castle in the air many forget albeit being one of the most impressive sides in the world, Bangladesh are ranked seventh and their record in the World Cup is not that much enviable as their best result so far is reaching a quarter-final in the last edition. 

The high-flying side lost to New Zealand in their second match, despite showing some fight, but were humbled by the pre-tournament favorite, the world’s No 1 side, hosts England. 

Not only the defeats, the manner in which they surrendered in the third match created an outrage among the fans, and the ones who were flying in the higher altitudes of hope, felt the greater pain while landing on the hard surface of reality. 

So much is the agony that even the pride of the team, the five pillars in the shape of captain Mashrafe bin Mortaza, Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib al Hasan and Mahmudullah are being put in the front of the firing line. 

All-rounder Shakib is however, off the rooster given his sizzling form with the bat, having scored 75, 64 and lastly the majestic innings of 121 against England. 

On top of all the criticism is Mashrafe for his performance so far with the ball.

The experienced right-arm pacer, the charismatic skipper, who is the chief conductor of orchestrating the perennial losing side to a force to be reckoned with, only once in the three matches could complete his stipulated 10 overs. 

Against South Africa and New Zealand he had to take himself off from the attack after bowling six overs and five overs respectively, given the hitting he was taking from the opposition batters. 

Amazingly, this has come as a strong reason in general to remove the Bangladesh captain from the playing XI, a thought, almost regarded as blasphemous before the tournament in the country where cricketing fervor is tantamount to a religious one.  

There is no doubt of the norm that an underperforming hand should be replaced, but in case of Mashrafe, the scenario is definitely different. 

The 35-year-old is not only the inspirational captain but also the highest wicket-taker for the Tigers in ODIs. 

So, not only for his leadership aspect, but also as a performer he is still irreplaceable. 

However, there are some constructive criticisms as well.

The tournament is expected to be a run-feast and already six 300-plus scores in the first 13 games gives hint of that. 

But, with the lack of power-hitting prowess, the Tigers decided to form a batting-laden side, comprising as many as nine batters. 

For many, that has created an imbalance and opting out Rubel Hossain, an out an out pacer, is a bad choice.  

But bearing in mind the situation, the possible replacement to bring in Rubel is tricky.

Saifuddin and Mustafizur Rahman can be the two options but the former, with six wickets, is so far the highest wicket-taker for Bangladesh in the tourney, and also handy with the willow later in the innings. 

Mustafizur, on the other hand, may be struggling with rhythm but he is the main weapon in the Tigers arsenal, getting three crucial wickets in their win against South Africa, and he also did well in the practice match against India to show his worth.

However, that can’t be said about batsman Mohammad Mithun as he scored just 21 and 26 in first two matches and a two-ball duck in the third made his position so vulnerable that the likes of Liton Das or Sabbir Rahman replacing him is very likely.  

That may change the tempo and give some fresh air to rise for the hopefuls who are currently weltering on the floor.