Series-deciding 3rd ODI today
Chandika Hathurusingha dropped his crutches on the ground, cautiously stretched his right foot forward and, with an imaginary bat in his hands, kept playing straight drives in front of Tamim Iqbal just as the left-hander was about to begin his batting session in Chittagong yesterday. The effort taken by the coach, who required the support due an injury, perhaps displayed how desperate he was to see his number one opener hit form again.
Tamim may not have been among the runs lately, but then again there’s no better place than the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium to change that when Bangladesh take on South Africa in the third ODI — the series decider — today.
With 391, Tamim has scored the most number of runs in ODIs on this ground and Hathurusingha and co will hope that the left-hander rediscovers his form in his hometown in a crucial match against a very strong side to complete a series victory.
Shakib Al Hasan, during the pre-match press conference yesterday, described the match as a ‘big opportunity’ for Bangladesh; and when one looks at the statistics, the reasoning behind Shakib’s choice of words was obvious.
Bangladesh have never beaten South Africa in a series. They have also never won a series against a team ranked in the top-eight after losing the first match. The only two occasions when they successfully managed to complete a comeback was against Zimbabwe in 2005 and 2009.
The stat depicts the defensive mindset that the Tigers had in the past when they were satisfied with a mere victory. However, things will be a lot different when Mashrafe Bin Mortaza’s side take the field today.
The way the skipper marshalled his players in the second ODI suggested that there was only one target on his mind: a victory.
Seldom does one get to see a Bangladesh captain using all his strike bowlers before the 40th over of the match, but Mashrafe did exactly that. In his hunger for wickets and control of the game, the 29-year-old finished the quotas of Mustafizur Rahman and Shakib early and had an extra fielder inside the circle throughout most of the second ODI.
The last ODI was one of the rare occasions when Shakib had finished his ten overs before the 40th over mark. He had never done that in the first innings of an ODI while playing against a side ranked in the top eight.
The attacking mindset on the field in turn helped his batsmen — who have been lacking confidence throughout the series — romp to the small target.
South Africa leg-spinner Imran Tahir yesterday chose a different route from Shakib and referred to the deciding ODI as a challenge.
Having been outclassed in the second ODI, Tahir believed that a score of around 250 would be good enough on a Chittagong track which is — like in the first two ODIs — expected to aid spinners.
Considered a lucky ground for the hosts, Bangladesh have won nine out of their 15 ODIs here. While Tamim is the highest run-getter, Shakib is the highest wicket-taker. That stat might as well encourage the left-armer to get the two remaining wickets that he requires to become the second Bangladeshi bowler to scalp 200 wickets after Abdur Razzak.
Skipper Mashrafe, who is on 199, is also in line for that landmark.
A series that began disappointingly for the Tigers now has turned into an opportunity for the Tigers to complete a most memorable ODI year.
Sure enough, the dominant performances against Pakistan and India will remain high on the list. However, few things can match the joy of a turn-around, because that’s a scenario that the Tigers haven’t painted too often.
-With The Daily Star input