Bangladesh has everything, a few good players, a stable cricketing infrastructure, government support, good market, a good future for cricket etc. But what Bangladesh do not have, is eleven individual players with enough experience to pull off a thriller to go in Bangladesh?s way.
A team that have too many young inexperienced players can always be inconsistent in their performance if the proper guidance is not there. This is one of the major failures of Bangladesh cricket.
Being a new and emerging test playing nation, it is big news when somebody scores a hundred either in test cricket or one day cricket. It is big news when somebody takes a five wicket haul or takes a hat-trick.
Before the recently concluded Pakistan tour, Bangladesh did not play like a team. The team total had to be dependent on a few consistent performers like Habibul Bashar, Khaled Mashud or Alok Kapali. But with the inclusion of our new hope coach Dave Whatmore, things have started to change.
We have seen some evidence of this when Bangladesh came close to victory three times ? twice in the test series and once in the one day series.
Before the forth One Day match during the Pakistan tour, Bangladesh did not have a proper team combination for one day cricket. When they had a good bowling line up, their batting line up was not good enough and when the batting line up was good, the bowling strength was weak.
It is more likely that an underdog team like Bangladesh will achieve a victory in one day cricket first than in test cricket.
And that is where Bangladesh cricket fans are counting on. That once the team management can find the right combination for both in test and one day cricket, then a victory will be only a matter of time.
In the recent past, we have seen Bangladesh going all out for less than one hundred on quite a few occasions. We have also seen the same team got beaten by a minnow side like Canada. If we look at the Bangladesh line up who were all out for 76 against Sri Lanka, 77 against New Zealand in the last year and 77 against India, we will see that in all the three teams, almost the same team played at the same batting order.
In case of experienced players, batting order does not seem to be of a major concern, but to a young and inexperienced team like Bangladesh, it is like playing an altogether different team.
For example, Bangladesh team management has consistently let Al Shahriar, a make-shift opener to open the innings, they have constantly tried out with Mohammad Ashraful or Hannan Sarkar as his partner. Both Mohammad Ashraful and Hannan Sarkar are good players, but they had failed to cement their place particularly in the one day team. Only recently during the Pakistan tour we have seen Hannan Sarkar to finally cement his place in the national team.
Alok Kapali gives the impression that he is a specialist batsman, but actually he has not performed well at the number four position at all. When he used to play in domestic cricket for his local team Sylhet, he was an all-rounder and was not really needed to bat in the middle order. But he is getting there and growing into a middle order bat for Bangladesh with much-needed experience at the International stage.
Tushar Imran has always been a good stroke-player, but after his first successful season for Bangladesh in one day cricket against Pakistan at home, he struggled at the test level, for which, he was dropped and then again called back into the team only to be dropped again. This constant changing and chopping had made his confidence lower and lower. It was only during the recent Pakistan tour that he was able to perform to his peak performance and also show to Dave Whatmore what he is capable of.
Under Dave Whatmore, what has improved the most is the attitude of the players. A keen observer of Bangladesh players would notice Alok Kapali and Hannan Sarkar?s apologetic smile after playing a bad shot or a ?look at what I can do? type of smile after playing a good stroke. In the 4th ODI match between Bangladesh and Pakistan, this smile was non-existent.
In addition, we have seen a great display of batting even when Bangladesh was 5 wickets down for only 50 odd runs in the first one day match. Inexperience is still there when we have seen Bangladesh going all out to 169 from 87 for the loss of 2 wickets in the second match.
But what was great to watch is the gradual improvement of the Bangladesh team courtesy of Dave Whatmore. In the test series too, we have observed this improvement, as we have seen losses of 7 or 9 wickets to a 1 wicket loss.
Anybody can ask how come Bangladesh batted so brillaintly 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 last three matches. There were 5 specialist batsman in the side even after the loss of 1 wicket of Khaled Mashud to some good opening bowling by the Pakistani batsman. 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 and therefore, the balance of the team was almost right.
On that day, the plan of slow batting had worked, but there is a possibility that it may not work always.
Fielders Rajin Saleh, Hannan Sarkar fielded poorly at a crucial stage and had failed to pick up the balls and throw them to the keeper at the right moment, Mashrafee along with Tapash Baisya also could not bowl the block hole balls or the right length balls that they were bowling earlier 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. Mohammad Ashraful and Mashrafee Bin Murtoza were also involved in a close match against Zimbabwe, but it was their first one day series.
Besides, the couple of such close games of Bangladesh 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. And in that world cup squad of 1999, there were a lot of senior players playing like Minhazul Abedin, Enamul Haque, Akram Khan to name a few whose fitness was not as good as of the current Bangladesh team.
There is a strong possibility that in the final and the fifth ODI, Bangladesh will disappoint the fans once again after a very good fight in the 4th match.