Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Relieved but not resting

Bishwajit Roy
It was not a victory to celebrate. It rather came as a relief for Bangla-desh when they handed a six-wicket defeat to Zimbabwe in the second game to square the three-match series 1-1 at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday.
Anything other than a victory would not only have awarded the series to Zimbabwe but also deepened the crisis for Mohammad Ashraful’s men, who suffered two consecutive defeats against the bottom-ranked side to frustrate the cricket fans in the country.
The Tigers attack led by brave-heart Mashrafe Bin Mortaza continued their inspiring show to restrict Zimbabwe for 160-9, thanks to Nazmul Hossain who initiated the initial damage to pick up three wickets for 28.
But the refreshing fact was that the top order did not crumble like the previous encounters and carved a comfortable victory with Rokibul Hasan (52 not out) and Mehrab Hossain (43) batting sensibly.
There was a good chance for Ashraful to calm his critics but the right-hander once again failed to take the opportunity while chasing a moderate target as the Bangladesh skipper was dismissed for five. The much-needed victory, however, gave the under pressure batsman some space to breath.
“It was an important match for us and I am just feeling good. It could have been more convincing but we won the match and are now looking forward to the last game,” said Ashraful when asked whether it was a relief or joy.
When asked to comment on an obvious question why Bangladesh tend to win when they absolutely have to or when their backs are against the wall, as it was seen in the tri-nation series, Ashraful said that every player tries to give their best in every match. “There is no doubt about that,” he added.
“I think that my decision to bat first in the first match was a wrong one and we also batted badly in that match,” he explained adding that the wicket was better than the one used on Monday where they suffered a two-wicket defeat after being bundled out for 124.
“We all looked at the wicket first and then decided that if we win the toss we would field first. The wicket was also better than Monday and I think even if we batted first on this wicket it wouldn’t have been a problem. Our batters and fielders were also good today,” he disclosed their yesterday’s plan.
The question was also raised about why they repeatedly failed to maintain the early momentum and let Zimbabwe off the hook from 47 for six.
“Yes, even though they had a 96-run stand, it was a slow partnership. We did not give runs freely. Nayeem bowled well so did Shakib during that partnership. Runs came slow but we could not pick wickets because they did not play any lofty shots, they just stuck to the basics and took singles or doubles.”
He was not only excited with the fact that his strike bowler Mashrafe bowled in the last stage but also sounded hopeful that the new think-tank will help their performance.
“We do have a group of five, which sits and analyzes games and performances and also plans for the future. I think it was a positive step we have taken and I am sure it will yield positive results in the future,” he said.
The Bangladesh skipper was also hopeful about winning the series.
“If we play our best cricket we will definitely win the series,” said Ashraful adding that he is getting a lot of support from all corners as a captain.
Zimbabwe captain Prosper Utseya was also optimistic about his team’s chances to win the series.
“It was not a good score on this wicket. Every team who have been put to bat first in these wickets have struggled to put up a good score and also build up partnerships. Also in order to defend 160 we needed to get wickets regularly which we failed to do,” said Utseya.
“Of course we need to pull up our socks and try our best for the game on Friday. It is a final for the both of us and we would definitely try to win it,” he hoped.

Courtesy: thedailystar.net

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