Bangladesh came close to a victory again. It was such type of a match after watching which we fans appreciate even the most bogus song.
Bangladesh captain Khaled Mahmud had won the toss for the first time in the one day series and had elected to bat first as expected. The Bangladesh opener Hannan Sarkar played a bit slowly along with the makeshift opener Khaled Mashud and then with Rajin Saleh. Habibul Bashar joined later with Rajin Saleh and also started to play slowly.
But the slow batting was actually a foundation for the later batsman to come in and play their shots. And what a batting the late middle order and the late order had shown! Tushar Imran was brilliant and proved his ability to Dave Whatmore. Mushfiqur Rahman showed his confidence in him by Whatmore and played sensibly. Khaled Mahmud proved again that if he wants, he can become a genuine all-rounder. The tail enders Mashrafee Bin Murtoza and Mohammad Rafique also batted their usual ways.
But these are general things that happens in a match. What was the most important thing was that nobody scored a half-century and yet, Bangladesh scored 222 runs in 50 overs. That is, it was a very good combined TEAM EFFORT for which Bangladesh could score more than 220 runs in a 50 over game. This is what was lacking in Bangladesh's batting.
And it all reminded us of a pre-1999 world cup era when Bangladesh's batting used to be stronger than their bowling.
Anybody would ask how come Bangladesh batted so brillaintly today in the 4th one day game that they could not do in the last 3 games? The most logical explanation is that this team with Khaled Mashud opening the innings, had a stronger batting line up than the past matches. There were 5 specialist batsman in the side even after the loss of 1 wicket of Khaled Mashud. Also the bowling line up was not changed for the sake of including an extra batsman in the team.
What was seen previously is that if Bangladesh's batting had failed, then an extra batsman would come in and somewhat disturbed the bowling line up or vice versa. But in this match, it did not happen because the specialist wicket keeper came into open the innings with a regular opener.
Now today the plan had worked, but it may not work on the next match. But let us come to the next match later. Let us discuss something about the bowling and fielding of the Bangladesh team, which had forced the match to be a cracker of a match.
As said earlier, the bowling line up was not hampered in trying to play an extra batsman. So all those bowlers who had bowled previously in the last few matches were bowled today and they have all maintained a good line and length.
What is seen in Bangladesh's most recent matches over the past year or so is that when Bangladesh bats well, their bowlers bowl and fielders field poorly and the same goes to the batsman. But it did not happen in today's match.
Although the new ball bowlers Mashrafee Bin Murtoza and Tapash Baisya had bowled a few wide and short balls to give away easy runs to the openers, but the slow bowlers particular Mushfiqur Rahman and Mohammad Rafique has bowled well as usual. And smelling a scent of victory, the captain Khaled Mahmud also started to bowl better than average. He also gathered up the team well.
A good new ball bowler would always get a batsman of Mohammad Hafeez's quality out in no time. So did Tapash Baisya. But there was Imran Nazir in the team in today's Pakistani line up and he is always a threat especially since we have all seen him how he bats in our local league matches. But he was not determined enough against Bangladesh in his first match of the series and threw away his wicket just like Mohammad Hafeez.
Then the two most accomplished young batsman of Pakistan came into the crease Yousuf Youhanna and Younus Khan. At this stage, Bangladesh slow bowlers Mushfiqur Rahman, Khaled Mahmud and later Mohammad Rafique came into bowl and restricted them somewhat from scoring at more than 4 runs an over.
Mohammad Rafique managed to trap Younus Khan for an lbw and Mashrafee took the wicket of Inzamam-Ul-Haque the captain and the danger man for Pakistan. But already, Pakistan had to score 74 runs off only 78 balls.
After Inzamam's out, Shoaib Malik came into bat and played a few good knocks with the set batsman Yousuf Youhanna. Then with some inexperience on the part of Shoaib Malik had cost him his wicket as he was run out to some brilliant fielding by the Bangladeshis.
Abdur Razzaq came into bat and missed a few balls as he tried to smash the ball to the ground for a few times until his nerves settled in.
After the end of the 48th over, Pakistan had to score 15 runs off 12 balls. But their main batsman Yousuf Youhanna was still there along with Abdur Razzaq, another experienced player of Pakistan.
At this stage, the both batsman tried for 2 runs off each balls as soon as they got the chance, and there were a few chances given by the Bangladeshi fielders.
In the end, Pakistan needed to score only 7 runs off the last 6 balls and they had done it with Youhanna hitting the wining runs.
Fielders Rajin Saleh, Hannan Sarkar fielded failed to pick up the balls and throw them to the keeper at the right moment, Mashrafee along with Tapash Baisya also bowled not so good balls to restrict the batsman.
But everybody has to forgive them especially if they knew that it was the first close game that these youngsters have played. Only Khaled Mahmud, Khaled Mashud and Mohammad Rafique and probably Habibul Bashar have the experience of playing such close games at the International level.
Besides, the couple of such close games that we have witnessed were all against Zimbabwe and everyone knows that the difference between Bangladesh cricket and Zimbabwe cricket is less than the difference between Bangladesh cricket and Pakistan cricket.
It is also an important thing to point out that Bangladesh's batting, bowling and fielding in today's match was not as perfect as that were during the world cup 1999.
For example, Tushar Imran would not have been able to score 33 runs off 31 balls if Inzamam had not failed to run him out throwing accurately. Bangladesh fielders were also not quite accurate in throwing the balls and getting the batsman out run out. A few of their throws were wild and there were some misfieldings too during the middle parts of the Pakistani innings.
Another notable point - this Pakistan side had almost everybody that they would have played normally. So it wasn't a Pakistan 'B' team either as I have heard some Pakistani fans suggested in case of some earlier matches.
Moreover, the inclusion of Mohammad Sami and Imran Nazir into the team had strengthened their team both batting-wise and bowling-wise from the last three one day matches.
However, having said all these good and positive things happening to Bangladesh, the players will now have to be even more determined to snatch a victory from the last and the final one day international match. And they will have to forget about scoring 120s and 180s in the 50 over games and have to avoid these worst performances more often than not. In short, they have to show more consistency in their game-play.
But we all know how Bangladesh plays - one day they are top and the next day they are at the bottom. With the disappointment coming out of this match, will the players be able to avoid the bad performances in the next and final ODI match as well as in the next home tour against England?
Best of luck to them in future games and well done for today's match!