Team Bangladesh can still bounce back

Staff Correspondent | Published: 01:24 am, 06 Jan 2017, Fri

Team Bangladesh can still bounce back

Shah Husain Imam   Even after three straight ODI defeats against New Zealand, our world ranking on this format remains unchanged at 7th by virtue of the points we had accumulated during the last few years. Yet the ODI losses have cut down our 95 points on the table to 91, just two points above Pakistan. It will be important for us to maintain the lead over Pakistan for the next seven months because the team ranking will determine the automatic qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup. Our handmaiden defeat in the first T-20 leaves us with two more to redeem ourselves. In the shortest version of the game, it can go either way given whose day it is! Besides, there are two test matches to prove ourselves. So, rather than being finicky and disheartened about the omissions and commissions we have made, and these are not repeatable at this level of the game, we can take heart from the positives we have achieved. There were flashes of brilliant individual performances but collective gelling as a team has been sorely missed. The differences between the two teams lay in the New Zealand side watching even a slight tipping of balance intently and seizing it with both hands. They played session by session with ruthless clinical performances that gave nothing away to the opponent. Yes, we offered them competitive and entertaining cricket on the whole which they showered their praise on as the wins gave them professional and national satisfaction. We need to be temperamentally trained to push the bar further up. Not so long ago, when Bangladesh would be defeated by a visiting national cricket side, our cricket-crazy nation, disappointed and even angry as they might have been, liked to keep cool waiting for another day! Lowering our original expectations, we would have urged our national side to come good in the rest of the series. In the very least avoid series debacle! Yet 2016 saw the best of Bangladesh cricket on the home ground, preceded by the white wash of the New Zealand team a year before. On the back of an impressive 2015, Tigers went to the final of the Asia Cup Twenty-20 2016 by defeating Sri Lanka and Pakistan. In the final they lost to India. Four years earlier, we had made it to the Asia Cup final but conceded a two-run victory to Pakistan. Before leaving for New Zealand, we won a historic Test against England. Miraz's dream debut as a spinner put him in the same bracket with Australia's Clarrie Grimmet, England's Nick Cook and India's Narendra Hirwani. All of them picked up a five-wicket haul in two consecutive Test matches on debut. Perhaps more importantly, Mustafiz coming back from injuries has been firing on all cylinders. Having been just ranked by the ICC as the best emerging cricketer of the year, though laid off for a long stretch of time, the tribute from New Zealand captain Williamson is worth a million smiles: “Mustafizur is a world class operator.” Our cricketing achievements have been mostly on the home ground which also holds true about most world class teams. Yet cricket buffs would challenge us to win in overseas matches to redeem ourselves conclusively. So that much higher has been Bangladesh's stake in New Zealand. With the pains outweighing the gains, we are calling upon the Tigers to save us from any further humiliation in New Zealand. The New Zealand skipper, while recognising the growing combativeness of Bangladesh cricket, admitted to having struggled to win at least two of the ODIs. Frankly, in the T-20 encounter at McLean Park, Bangladesh should have won comfortably. In a wicket called a batting paradise, we crumbled to four down for 30. Had it not been for the brilliant knock by Mahmudullah aided by Mosaddek, we would have virtually nothing to bowl at! The tragedy was more pronounced and heart-rending for a slice of the diaspora watching the spectacular anticlimax when after having taken two quick wickets at key moments, we let the rush of blood thin out. As we added another two wickets to the tally, the opposition meanwhile would take the game away from us through a long partnership cherry-picking from the catches missed by Imrul Kayes and Soumya Sarkar. The two men had positioned themselves quite a few yards inside the boundary as the ball skied down on the fence. They apparently aimed to save twos or ones instead of fours with one bounce or going aerial which a properly placed fielder could intercept. By contrast, you could only marvel at the stunning catch taken and retaken by Shakib in an amazing mix of acrobatics in and out of the boundary line. The experiential value addition to the Tigers' analytical framework in terms of the strategy for remaining matches must see an unfailing application in the field.   The writer is a current affairs commentator and former Associate Editor, The Daily Star. E-mail: shahhusainimam@gmail.com Source: The Daily Star