Well, this is what quagmire feels like then. Sullen, sunken, beaten, a deep sense of hopelessness. Defeats become so regular that we get numb, and indifferent to the pain. The worst of it, we don't look forward to a better day. What's the use?
When the clouds are at their darkest, one must look extra hard for that silver lining. If our team were having a fantastic run of success, we would not have to try hard to show our loyalty. If we had unexpected "Giant-Killing" success in the field yesterday, the whole nation would have turned into instant cricket fans. Even non-bangladeshi lower order cricket nations would cheer us up for our success. Banglacricket.com would actually have to pick and choose amongst prospective sponsors.
The picture is grim now, and we are all blue with pain. To remind ourselves of the dismal, runaway statistics of ours is to add insult to the injury. It's a dark umbrella with a few bright pinpricks of successes. So few are they, that pointing at them is similar to draw the attention of others to our rare lucky shots. So, that is not why I am writing this. I want to grab on to the positives from yesterday's game. I will find that silver lining and I will try my darndest to spread that good feeling like infection.
Rajin Saleh is brave, tenacious and a composed batsman. He proved it again. Yesterday, he came to bat at two down. Then he saw two more vital wickets fall at the other end after adding just a couple more runs (7 for 4 in 9.1 overs). He stayed there, forging an incredible partnership with another tenacious young man, Mushfiq. Rajin was not only surviving, he kept scoring. These two guys played a perfect opener's innings. Mushfiq played the part of the more cautious, subdued partner, while Rajin kept an acceptable runrate under severely adverse condition.
A closer look at the cameo reveals more to admire these guys. Rajin was there for about 25 overs with Mushfiq. The pair added 53 runs. English pacers grew ever hostile at them. Both Rajin and Mushfiq received plenty of short deliveries, nasty risers and even one or two bodyline pitches. They ducked, swayed and when that wasn't enough, they simply took the hit. Flintoff was particularly aggressive, injured Mushfiq with the last delivery of the 18th over. Mushfiq needed medical attention to his fingers for that one. Rajin took a hit to the arm as well. The pacers were getting so much swing off the pitch, these two guys had a good lesson in defending themselves from deliveries that were sharply angling into them. Bowling took such hostile mood after the initial English success, that even spinners got into the action with repeated lbw appeals.
Throughout all these, Rajin managed to hit five 4's for his 37. He even hit Clarke for two boundaries in the same over (20th). He even picked the right ball to pull when he was caught. Another rising one from Clarke, presented itself at the right spot also. A little more juice on that shot would have seen it fly over the boundary, not caught at square leg. Rajin will surely play many more times for Bangladesh, but I think he will remember this one. We will remember it for sure.
Mushfiq hung around for 10 more overs while watching Khaled Mahmud misreading Ashley Giles' similar arm balls 3 times before finally being adjudged lbw by one. It seems Mushfiq would have been there to support anyone else that would take the responsibility to rebuild this tattered innings. Unfortunately, the quick fall of wickets a second time arround in the same game must have been too unnerving for the young man. He too fell to a slower Johnson delivery.
We have seen Rafique's late heroics with the bat so many times by now. He had no less than 2 close calls in the first 4 deliveries of his innings. How he lasted eleven gruelling overs with the bat is a mystery as usual. He gave us, once again, an unexpected yet sweet 27 valuable runs with four boundaries. The unlikely batsman number 11, Taposh, finished the Bangladesh innings with 2 back-to back boundaries.
Rebuilding an innings under pressure takes bravery, grit, graft and a bit of luck. Rajin had three of the four yesterday, Mushfiq also. They were out of luck yesterday. They displayed a demo in surviving and rebuilding. Not falling valiantly, but staying there with grit, fighting tooth and nail. I have said it in the past, I will say it again. Rajin should open. It is the natural course of development for his kind of temperament. Mushfiq, if given the proper support, will set the standard for other so-called alrounders in the Bangladesh side. He has been consistant in getting some runs and some wickets so far.
You see, these guys understood their part in the side yesterday. I want to say: They tried ! But, they didn't try by taking wild swings at lady luck. They tried with methods and processes. They tried reading every ball. They tried to keep focused. They followed the coaching instructions and mindfully applied them in their game.
A must mention: Hats off to Flintoff. What a show!