West Indies scrambles to a win - the headlines echoed around the world.
And it was last man Fidel Edwards's scramble that inflicted yet another heartbreaking
loss for the Bangladesh team. As the night passes for the second ODI to begin
in just a few hours, it is time to do a quick postmortem.
For a while, it seemed like Bangladesh had reverted to her old script - A top
order collapse laying the innings in ruins and then stuttering to a barely respectable
score only due to the valiant efforts of the regular stalwarts Khaled Mashud,
Mohammad Rafique and Mushfiqur Rahman.
The West Indians quickly made some changes to their batting order and brought
in hard-hitting batsmen Powell and Gayle to finish off the game in quick time.
But the gods had a different script. And the Bangladesh team that came onto
the field was a different team than the one that batted. Gayle quickly departed
for a duck and for a while as Powell batted on with confidence it seemed that
the pre-innings predictions of a quick finish were coming true. And then the
one after another the West Indian batsmen were sent back to the dressing room
and we reached the stage where last men Bradshaw (in his debut) and Edwards
needing to score 12 runs to prevent an extremely embarrassing defeat.
Yes, they won but Bangladesh came off the field with heads held high. Granted
that the current West Indies team is not the powerhouse it once was and is rated
just above the bottom two Test playing nations, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. But
this was Bangladesh they were matched against? Aren't the so called pundits
still harping on how the ICC debased cricket by giving Bangladesh Test Status?
Isn't it just yesterday Indian captain Ganguli spoke about a two-tier system?
Isn't this the West Indies team, while being whitewashed by England in the Tests,
gave a good reckoning of themselves in the ODI series scoring and chasing 300+
So what went wrong or right? What did we learn from the match and where do
we go from here?
From a 10000-foot view, I think we have rightfully relinquished the title of
"laughingstock". The nay saying pundits must now start to shut-up
about Bangladesh's right to be given Test Status. Even if we seem to be moving
two step forwards and one step backwards, we are moving forward and it no longer
inconceivable that Bangladesh can beat someone other than Zimbabwe and Kenya
and that too very soon. We have arrived. I doubt any other team will be complacent
about Bangladesh anymore and predict 2 day Tests and double centuries in ODIs.
Let that speculation be focused on the impending Zimbabwe vs. Australia series.
From the field? A mixed bag. Some good, some bad, some ugly and some beautiful.
When will our inconsistent batting stop giving us fans heart attacks? We have
yet to find a workable opening pair that can help build the foundation of a
respectable score. Bringing Manjural Islam Rana to open is an interesting experiment
and may yet work, but Shahriar Hossain's roller-coaster form continues to disappoint
us. Two back-to-back woeful performances and perhaps it is time to think about
bringing in Hannan Sarker to partner with Rana. We are still searching for a
solid opening pair in ODIs.
Next up for discussion is Habibul Bashar. When, oh when will he learn to stop
hooking and swiping? The shot he got out to was not only atrocious in isolation
but is even more worthy of criticism given that we were 0 for 1. He may be our
best batsmen but until he learns to be judicious with his shot selection he
will never be the batsmen he promises to be. And this same issue of shot-selection
seems to be dogging most of our batsmen. You would think that after a while
they will learn. And yet they go out the same way, innings after innings.
Khaled Mashud - how many ways can we show our gratefulness to you. Over and
over again, he has become our own version of the wall (albeit mini), and brought
about respectability to our score. Mohammad Rafique and Mushfiqur Rahman appears
to be built in the same mold. My hats off.
The bowling and fielding was much more positive. Fielding was sharp and clean
and the only chances dropped were half-chances. While Rafique was not as incisive
as he usually is, his batting more than made up for it. His bowling average
is sufficient proof that in him we have a genuine world class bowler. Speaking
of world class, Rana seems to be another one in the making.
Tapas Baisya performed to his abilities and deserves his spot. Of course until
Mashrafee or Talha or Sharif or the new find Shahadat make their way in the
Alok Kapali has been another big disappointment. Failing both in batting and
bowling, perhaps it is time for him to sit out and work out this lean patch.
There is no doubt he has talent but he has only occasionally risen to his potential.
Perhaps the team management needs to do an "Ashraful" with him. Bring
in Faisal Hossain in his place and let the in-from Faisal show his potential.
Last, but not least, a few special words need to be said for our Phoenix-like
Khaled Mahmud. Much derided and criticized, he confounds his critics to be reborn
from the ashes. And what a marvelous rebirth it has been - 10 miserly overs
(only 15 runs given with 3 maidens) and 2 wickets. This was the man who once
had an astronomical bowling average of 406 in Tests. In the last 10 ODIs his
average of 30.54 is downright world-class. The old fighter may yet have a few
more rounds in him. He surely deserves to be in the team.
Final thoughts? If the batting clicks, we have some very interesting few weeks
ahead of us.