Bangladesh prove their efficiency at the big stage

Bangladesh prove their efficiency at the big stage

Bangladesh has shown that they can punch above their weight at the big stage against the big teams. They need to be mentally stronger and have greater self-belief.

Bangladesh batsman Mohammad Mahmudullah celebrates with teammates after hitting the winning runs. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Bangladesh qualified for their first semifinal in an ICC event. They fell short of a strong India on Thursday but they go home with their heads held high. The Tigers were participating in the Champions Trophy after an 11-year exile and to produce a return like what they have done, underlines their progress as an international team.

Since they qualified for the quarter-finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, Bangladesh has been a different team. Their overall winning ratio is 31.63% ever since they made their ODI debut in 1986. Since April 2015, it has shot up to 53% which include a home ODI series whitewash of Pakistan followed by a 2-1 series win against India. This is a great improvement and Bangladesh are now capable of winning against stronger sides. Mortaza-led Bangladesh travelled to Sri Lanka and drew each of the Test, ODI and T20 series. Winning at home is a good feeling but winning overseas gives a lot of satisfaction.

The likes of Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan, Mashrafe Mortaza, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah have been at the forefront of their country’s rise in international cricket. Tamim was in bright form in the Champions Trophy, Shakib and Mahmudullah got them to the semis after playing the innings of their lives, and Mushfiqur scored 2 fifties. In 14 games, the 300-run barrier was breached just 6 times and Bangladesh were one side who did it. They amassed 305/6 against England, the only team to score 300 plus against the hosts in the tournament, but it proved 20-25 short on the day. All in all, it was a good outing for Bangladesh, who can only get better and better from here on.

Let us have a look on how their campaign went by:

1) Sharp against England but still not enough

Bangladesh were very professional with the bat against the might of England. Tamim Iqbal lit the tournament up with a glorious hundred and was well supported by Mushfiqur Rahim, who hit a 72-ball 79. The duo added 166 runs for the third wicket and set their side for the final assault which could have gotten them close to 330. But Tamim and Mushfiqur fell in the same over off consecutive deliveries and Bangladesh could get just 44 from the last 33 balls to end up at 305, still reasonable but not daunting. England made light weight of the target and overhauled it with 15 balls to spare. It was a good performance against the hosts by the No. 6 ranked team but certainly not enough on the day. Bangladesh must learn from their mistakes and plan the final 10 overs accordingly. One can’t go firing all cylinders from both ends.

2) Rain gods come to their rescue

After a wonderful batting performance the other day, Bangladesh’s top order did not offer any resistance against the Australians. Barring Tamim, who played out of his skin to get a valuable 95, nobody else could contribute more than 29. As a result, they were bowled out for just 182. Australia looked on course to overhaul the target in a hurry but the rains had other ideas. At the 15-over mark, just 5 overs short of the bare minimum play require to constitute it as a match, playing was stopped with Australia just 100 runs short with 9 wickets in hand. Bangladesh were lucky to get a point in this game which proved like a catalyst in their semifinal qualification.

3) Shakib and Mahmudullah conjure something special

Bangladesh had to win this and hope England defeat Australia the following day to qualify further. The first obstacle was to come to terms with a sharp Kiwi ODI lineup. They did well with the ball to restrict them to 265 but were down and out when their innings stuttered to 33/4 in the 12th over. Two stalwarts of Bangladesh: Shakib and Mahmudullah were involved in one of the best rearguard partnerships one would ever see, considering the magnitude of the game. Both batted with great poise, often mixing attack with defence, to add 224 runs for the 5th wicket, the highest ever partnership recorded by Bangladesh for any wicket in ODI cricket. It was a spectacular sight watching Bangladesh delivering a performance and a half against a strong international side, New Zealand. Shakib fell 9 runs before the formalities were completed as Mahmudullah was seen with his arms aloft at Cardiff after winning the game for his country and also getting to a memorable century. Such a performance can lift the entire nation and Bangladesh will remember this game for a very long time.

4) Reality check against India

It was India who knocked Bangladesh in the quarter-finals of the 2015 World Cup and they did it again in the semifinal on Thursday. The final scorecard reflects that India annihilated their neighbours but it doesn’t tell you the actual picture. After the 27 over mark, India were fretting as Bangladesh reached 152/2 and looked set to reach anything around 310. This is where they could have been smarter, they lost two wickets to the part-time spin of Kedar Jadhav and could only reach to 265. Such a modest total was never going to challenge the defending champions as they completed the win with 59 balls unused and 9 wickets in hand. Bangladesh will be disappointed but they have nobody else to blame but themselves.

5) Poor conduct of fans

Bangladesh fans have a history of poor conduct. Bangladesh players in the past have asked their fans to be patient with the team and not expect results instantly. Even their skipper Mortaza had asked fans to not expect the team to win the tournament despite being in the semifinals. Their fans have known to ridicule India in the past and recently, the national flag was disrespected by a fan by draping it around a dog while the Bangladesh flag was draped around a tiger. Prior to that, once a fan had photoshopped an image of Taskin Ahmed holding a severed head of India’s then limited overs captain MS Dhoni. Such incidents don’t leave a good taste in the mouth and put their national team under pressure and embarrassment.