When Bangladesh reached 200 in the 47th over yesterday after having slipped to 1/3 by the first ten minutes, it was akin to a highly strung mountaineer having climbed Mount Everest on one leg and with a busted oxygen tank, but in favourable overhead conditions.
The proverbial leg came off when the openers Tamim Iqbal and Imrul Kayes fell very early, both off poor, wide deliveries that ought to be blasted but found safe hands behind the wicket instead. The oxygen tank leaked when Mohammad Ashraful, the one who hasn’t hit an ODI half-century since January last year, gave Darren Sammy a catch at second slip. It had officially broken when Shakib Al Hasan’s head-rush of an innings — three boundaries in his 12 — ended with a terrible waft.
It was threatening to be a “58” like tumble but the recovery was orchestrated by skipper Mushfiqur Rahim and Nasir Hossain. Both hit patient half-centuries, equivalent to the hapless climber finally being patient, hitting his stride and holding on for dear life.
But how it became such a difficult climb, especially with no venom in the path, is worth another look.
The idea should have been for the other batsmen to mimic Shakib and not the other way around. Tamim and Imrul might have the excuse of getting out trying to hit bad balls but it still sounds like a poorly thought pretext. Ashraful through his duck has again gone into the borrowed time zone, something he had earned since that Test half-century against Zimbabwe last month.
The skipper Mushfiqur Rahim had already been at the crease for a while and only found Alok Kapali in the mood to stage a recovery as Darren Sammy continued with pace for 24 overs. Though it wasn’t pleasing to the eye, the fifth-wicket pair added 40 before Kapali surrendered to the short ball after being hit once on the chest and found handling anything around his throat quite troubling.
Mushfiqur then had Naeem Islam for company and the two added 57 and was almost turning a lost cause into a decent fight. Naeem’s discomfort at the short ball was once again evident but he fought through to score 30, but like Kapali, the Gaibandha-born all-rounder was dismissed when he was getting used to the opposition’s length.
But the skipper stayed firm and again confirmed how adept he’s to the short ball. Again, it was his common sense that worked as his advantage. The wicketkeeper-batsman hit 43 singles and cruised to his tenth half-century before opening up.
His innings came to life with his pulled six off Kemar Roach but ended with the same shot, another batsman falling to a pull, a shot that is turning into the theme of the series.
Nasir took over from Mushfiqur after they added 35 for the seventh wicket as he gave Abdur Razzak’s big hitting the most room in his 41-run stand with the surprisingly able tail-ender before launching into his half-century. Nasir moved from 26 to 50 in twelve balls, hammering three fours and a six.
On previous occasions, a disastrous start would have amounted to a calamitous end, but with brave climbers you get a heroic story, a script wholeheartedly written by Mushfiqur and Nasir.
-With The Daily Star input