When whim dominates over common sense, no team can expect to escape humiliation
especially in Test cricket. No wonder, Bangladesh are paying the price of being
whimsical, in the short term â€“ a shambolic defeat on Test return, in the long
term â€“ more depressing developments are on the way. It takes quite some time
to build up an image, and yet it takes no time to tarnish it. Bangladesh took
a very wrong time to ruin its hard earned image in a series which was branded
as a grudge series, especially after the happenings of March 17 in Trinidad
Fierce and relentless criticism is a part and parcel of Bangladesh Test history.
After some significant developments over the last few years, it appeared Bangladesh
have finally managed to leap forward, and those dark old days will remain as
the birth pains of Bangladesh cricket. The coach and captain, who led the renaissance
of Bangladesh cricket, made a horrendous mistake to remind everyone of the dark
old days of Bangladesh Test cricket, ironically in this last Test with Whatmore
as Bangladesh coach. Nothing could be more shameful for him to see the largest
dip in performance graph during his tenure, and he played a crucial role in
creating this painful mess.
Everyone expected that Bangladesh will put up a good show after drawing the
Chittagong Test, and Whatmoreâ€™s farewell Test added some more interest into
it. Habibul Bashar, who rued his luck with tosses in the past, managed to win
the toss and through that gained the right to use the wonderful batting surface
ahead of their opponents. Bangladesh were already depleted due to absence of
Shahadat Hossain, one of the heros of the Chittagong Test. Another premier bowler
Mashrafe Mortaza, was struggling with fitness, and Mohammad Sharif made a Test
comeback after a 5-year injury break. Bashar probably had the ideal stage to
take the easiest decision on earth after winnings the toss, bat first, give
the bowlers some time to recover and use the fresh legs to dismantle India after
posting a good total on a placid surface.
Unfortunately for Bangladesh, the decision which looked obvious didnâ€™t turn
out to be the reality. For inexplicable reasons, Whatmore and Bashar decided
to make one of the worst gambles in Test cricket history. They invited a batting
line-up to use the surface first in which the first five batsmen share about
500 Test caps and 30,000 Test runs between them. What went through their minds
in the very moment will be never known. Misreading the wicket is a lame excuse.
A captain of 43 Tests and a coach with 13 years experience in the sub-continent
should have been able to assess the wicket conditions.
India took the unexpected gift with both hands, and piled a mammoth total to
take the game away from Bangladesh. To be honest, Indians have only played according
to the merit of the situation. It is Bangladesh, who threw the game away at
the very beginning and Indians were lucky to be at the receiving end.
In the process of posting an imposing total of 610-3d, Indians made records
after records to rub salt to the wound generously exposed to them by Bangladesh.
After 160 overs of testing time under hot and humid conditions, India finally
decided to give some relief to the Bangladeshi bowlers. They could have easily
broken many other batting records but after dismantling the bowling attack,
they decided to toy with the batsmen, .
And the inevitable happened. Bangladeshi batsmen came in the middle with a
mountain to climb, after the exhausting two days in the field; they were battered
mercilessly by the Indian new ball bowlers. Bangladesh, initially reduced to
7-4, could only manage a meager 118 run in the first innings. India enforced
the follow on, and a couple of half centuries from Ashraful and Mashrafe lifted
Bangladesh to 253 in the second innings, but could not prevent the predestined fate.
Bangladesh plunged to a new low after years of improvements and succumbed to
a humiliating defeat inside three days by an innings and 239 runs. Habibul Bashar,
the captain, who brought so much misery to the team with the decision, have
contributed only 9 with the bat.
After guiding Bangladesh for some glorious moments in his four years tenure,
Dav Whatmore probably deserved a better farewell, but he made one of the worst
misjudgments of cricket history to make his farewell worth forgetting for all
Bangladeshi fans including himself.