Thursday, November 30, 2023

No respect in a loss

Bangladesh-West Indies 2nd ODI today
Thursday was exactly the sort of evening Bangladesh cricket had yearned for years.
Chasing a huge total, the Tigers fell 40 runs short making a respectable 250-plus score against the West Indies in the first ODI. Two batsmen got half-centuries; one sauntered and the other battled his way. The perennial underachiever made the opposition fast bowler look a few notches quicker while the other batsmen merely filled up the scorecard which generally told a run-of-the-mill story.
But Thursday came after a gutsy Twenty20 win on Tuesday, against the same opponents and at the same ground — the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium. That victory came on the back of an effective hour and a half in the field followed by some late heroics from the new skipper.
The Tigers these days are evidently prepared, skilled and made to believe of more Tuesdays than Thursdays. The concept of a “respectable loss”, especially at home, is on its way to the museum, one is told.
But statistics tell a different story. In the course of Bangladesh’s ODI history, only thrice have they chased down a target of more than 250 and none of them have come in the last two years and never has it happened at home. At the Mirpur itself, India, Sri Lanka and England have won chasing 250-plus on six occasions out of which Bangladesh were at the receiving end five times.
Mushfiqur Rahim admitted an error in judging the wicket after he decided to bowl first having won the toss, but if a flat wicket is enough to make the Tigers give up that easily, the new men in charge have a lot of work in hand.
None of the fielders showed energy when Marlon Samuels and Lendl Simmons dominated the attack on the unresponsive pitch and they only roused from slumber when Keiron Pollard’s big-hitting was hurting their collective egos.
What also stood out was how rigid the Tigers were when their plans got altered slightly. Imrul Kayes hurt his ankle and had to bat at No 3. Hastily, Naeem Islam had to open but the all-rounder looked anything but ready.
Naeem has opened till his Under-19 days and has established himself as a No 4 for Rajshahi and the various Premier League clubs he’s played for but international cricket gave his ambitions of playing in the top-order a wake-up call. Batting out 82 deliveries for a half-century is not half as bad if the innings flourishes near the end but at no point did he look comfortable against Ravi Rampaul & Co.
With Tamim Iqbal hitting fielders more than the gaps and importantly missing out on strike, it was a disaster waiting to happen. The left-handed opener gave Devender Bishoo a bonus of a wicket, edging a long-hop. For the Chittagonian to flourish like he did in 2009 and 2010, Law must give him the freedom to express himself. Imrul too was effective but has to carry on, something he should aspire to do more often despite the shaky ground he’s standing on.
But the rest just faded away, like they have done so many times in the last decade.
Alok Kapali and Mohammad Ashraful, despite their age and international experience, and Nasir Hossain to some extent, should ask the team’s video analyst to show them Shakib Al Hasan’s innings because most would have missed out despite standing at the other end.
Shakib didn’t let any of the bowlers settle into a rhythm, picked 43 singles at every angle and hit only two boundaries and a six. It was a quintessential Shakib innings and this is the sort of knock that should be set on a pedestal.
More importantly, his effort should be copied unashamedly or one should be ready for more respectable losses, however respectable they are.

-With The Daily Star input

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