Friday, December 8, 2023

Tigers aim to end on a high

Since last Friday when the Tigers lost the first one-dayer in Harare, the constant line from the Tigers, casually or officially, was of a win making all the difference.
That win came three days late, after the series had been lost, though the mood has palpably changed since the six-wicket victory at the Queens Sports Club.
Their last game on tour today, the fifth ODI, is of paramount importance simply because of the wretched nature of the last three weeks.
Captain Shakib Al Hasan would very much want a 3-2 scoreline rather than 4-1 which would be the exact margin that the Tigers had handed Zimbabwe the last time the two sides met in this country.
Apart from regaining some semblance of respect, a win would be a confidence boost for the players who have less than a month in hand after the Eid-ul-Fitr vacations to prepare for the West Indies series at home.
The talk among the Tigers now is of finishing well, especially at an individual level. Most of the players would have selection for the next series on their mind and for some today’s game is a final chance to rescue some brownie points after what could only be described as an ordinary tour.
Among the few positives has been the two innings played by newcomer Shuvogoto Hom Chowdhury. Considered an outsider from the time of his selection, the right-hander from Mymensingh gave a good account of his calm head, though showing signs of nervousness with the dropped catch and senseless run out in his first game.
But his unbeaten 35, which supported Shakib when the Tigers had lost four wickets with 76 needed to win, was a knock of a proper one-day batsman.
“It was important for us to finish the game. It would be good to stay not out for me and the team, and also win by a big distance. I tried to stay unbeaten in the end,” he said yesterday.
“The team mood has definitely changed. We want to win the last game properly,” added Shuvogoto.
After the win on Friday, Shakib was clear that a lot was left to be done by the batsmen despite the better performance. Imrul Kayes and Junaed Siddiqui went after the bowling in a manner of desperation that bordered on the ridiculous.
But the fact remains that confidence is everything for a batsman, especially one who plays for Bangladesh. Only three months ago, Imrul was hammering runs against Australia and after just a few low scores, finds his place questioned.
Junaed however should have used the two matches, especially the fourth ODI, for his own benefit. After scores of 12 and 14, it is natural for the selectors on tour to think of bringing back Shahriar Nafees or Mohammad Ashraful for one last try.
Abdur Razzak’s place in the squad is also hanging by the proverbial thread and given his tour haul of just five wickets (a single in three ODIs), something outstanding beckons for the man who leads the Bangladesh wicket-takers chart in one-day cricket.
The Zimbabwe players would also want to return to winning ways, especially ahead of their series against Pakistan, who arrive here on August 25.
The home side’s batting banks on the experienced top-order and with three out of the four failing in the last game, the onus will be on the youngsters to take the step up.
Their bowling too has looked toothless without Brian Vitori, whose devastation against Bangladesh has made all the difference in the first three games.
A return for Vitori and the steady Craig Ervine would evenly match the teams in a bid to add some spice to the dead rubber.

-With The Daily Star input

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