The national cricket team returned home from Zimbabwe yesterday after burying the ghost of another series whitewash.
Although there were not many fans around to greet Habibul Bashar's men, who ended a 47-match losing streak in one-day internationals at Harare on March 10, the players were understandably holding their heads high when they arrived at the Zia International Airport in the morning.
The Tigers lost the two-Test series 1-0 and went down fighting 2-1 in the one-dayers in their second away series against the Africans. Although rain spoiled the second Test and first two one-day internationals at Bulawayo, Bashar's men came tantalisingly close to winning their first one-day series after their exciting eight-run victory in the third match.
The tourists were only denied by a giant Zimbabwean captain Heath Streak, who held his nerves in the final two one-day games and batted his side to safety on both occasions.
"I'm very upset that we didn't win the series although we came so close. Still, the fighting spirit the boys showed in the last two games was our biggest achievement," told Bangladesh coach Dav Whatmore to the reporters at the airport.
The Australian, who turned 50 on Tuesday, celebrated his first success as Bangladesh coach at the VIP Lounge of the airport after BCB chief executive Macky Dudhia presented him a birthday cake.
"Bangladesh is a more organised team now and the boys are much more confident after that victory in Harare," said a smiling Whatmore, who took over the job in June last year.
Whatmore, who coached Sri Lanka to World Cup triumph in 1996, said that he was happy to see the "never-say-die" mentality of his charges in the last three one-day internationals.
"I was delighted to see the boys fight till the end. I think it will help them grow in confidence ahead of our next assignment in West Indies," he said.
The Tigers will take a month's rest before flying out to the Caribbeans in the first week of May to play two Tests and three one-day internationals.
Whatmore however was not happy with his consistently inconsistent batting line-up.
"We have tried different combinations at the top-order. May be Alok Kapali has failed in the first two games, but I still think that he can make a good opening batsman," Whatmore hoped.
He also defended captain Habibul Bashar despite the country's top batsman managed only one fifty in three games against three ducks that included a pair in the first Test.
"Everybody made small mistakes like Bashar. It is unfair to blame only the captain," he said responding to a question about the new captain's performance.
Whatmore however declined to make any comment on Rafique's surprise departure from Harare just before the start of the fifth and final one-dayer.
"You can ask, but you will get nothing from me," he said. The team management in Harare sent the left-arm spinner home for breaching the code of conduct after his alleged involvement in a row with Bashar the day before the final game.
But Bashar said that the untoward episode involving him and Rafique was still bugging him.
"It was a team management decision but it is true that I feel depressed whenever I recall that incident," said Bashar without elaborating.
But apart from the incident, Bashar claimed his first assignment as Bangladesh captain a successful one.
"We had a chance of winning our first series but unfortunately we failed to fulfil the dream. I think there were a lot of positives in the series that will help us to do better in the future. The series gave us the confidence that we can win against anybody," said Bashar, who took over from Khaled Mahmud after the home series against England.
"But, I batted at number seven position because I was not getting runs up the order. On the other hand, we were having experiments in the opening position to find out a solid pair," he ended.
Source: Daily Star >>>