What went through the minds of Bangladesh’s top-order in the first three games of the series was confirmed to all yesterday. Aggressive intent and a gung-ho attitude, though expected, not only uncovered how relieved they felt in the fourth one-dayer (read Brian Vitori’s absence), but showed their defensive approach in the previous three.
The openers and the next man in came out flying, evident through their first scoring shots. Imrul Kayes, after surviving what could have been a fateful drop in the covers the previous ball, slammed a Christopher Mpofu ball right into the press box while Tamim Iqbal blazed Kyle Jarvis twice through the covers. Junaed Siddiqui, through his chip over the cover field, emulated the openers.
In the first three matches, Imrul couldn’t buy a run, an aggregate of 35 which included a circumspect 16 in the crunch game on Tuesday.
Leg-before dismissals to Vitori and Prosper Utseya and a forced hoick to the left-arm paceman had him in the woods. But with no Vitori in sight, Imrul went after Mpofu from the word go. It was slightly unusual to see the Meherpur-born opener hit bowlers everywhere with the more aggressive one standing at the other end.
Tamim too looked like his old self, hitting boundaries at will. But only he could explain how it all went missing in Harare, falling to Vitori twice and a bizarre run-out in the last game.
Junaed’s smack over the covers off Mpofu or hitting Utseya for a straight six were pressure-release shots though it would have been more helpful in the previous game when he struggled against both bowlers.
And none of Imrul, Tamim or Junaed took over the duty to finish the game after they had already given a solid start, a responsibility that captain Shakib Al Hasan wanted them to take but had to do it himself.
“I still think we should have finished it better. We needed 70-odd and we had lost four wickets. If I got out suddenly, it would have been a lot of pressure with the new batsmen,” said Shakib.
“Senior players should take the responsibility of finishing the game. But I liked the way our top-order batsmen showed a positive mindset, something that we wanted from the beginning,” he added.
Shakib finished the job alongside Shuvogoto Hom Chowdhury, who remained unbeaten on 35. The calm presence at the other end impressed the captain, who said, “I am very satisfied with the way Shuvogoto batted. I really liked it. It didn’t seem as if he was new to international cricket. I am very impressed with his batting.”
The six-wicket win brought nothing but relief to Shakib, who enjoyed a happy dressing-room. “There’s a good feeling in the dressing room. It is like any other win but we really needed it here. [There’s] still one more game to go and if we can finish that on a high note, there’ll be some positive we can take back home,” he said.
The game on Sunday would be a final chance for the top three to come good, be it self-satisfaction (in Tamim’s case) or to keep their individual places.
-With The Daily Star input