A match, which was expected to be competitive, turned out to be one-sided and boring.
Bangladesh, which had played some fascinating cricket in the group stages of the tournament and reached first ever semi-final in a global event, just crumbled under the pressure of expectations at Edgbaston and India eased past them to reach its fourth ICC Champions Trophy final.
This was probably the most important match in the history of Bangladesh cricket. Though before the game skipper MashrafeMortaza tried to play down the hype by terming it as just another game but from inside, he was well aware of the significance of this fixture.
Coming into this game, Mortaza was banking on the ‘Never say die attitude’ of this team. But on Thursday, we could hardly find any reflection of that on the field. There were some initial sparks from the bats of TamimIqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim, but after they were dismissed, it was a cakewalk for India.
So, did the occasion get better of Bangladesh, like it did in the quarter-final of 2015 World Cup or in the final of 2016 Asia Cup?
Despite all the progress they have made in white-ball cricket, heartbreaks like Thursday tend to happen quite frequently for Bangladesh in crunch games. In these high-profile matches against top class oppositions (Interestingly, it has been the Indian team in most of the occasions) Bangladesh tend to lay down their weapons, without a fight.
So, is it more of a psychological problem than the skill factor?
Well, Mortaza believes so.
“I think in a tournament like this, you have to be [ready]. We’ll do better in 2019. Physically and in terms of skill, we’ve not been too bad. But maybe we could be a bit more ready mentally to play this sort of game. I know once you are ready mentally, anything can be possible. I know next time I think the boys will learn, not because – both times in 2015 and 2017, both times they’ve been through the knockout system. So if you can go through next time, hopefully, the boys will learn how to get ready mentally,” he highlighted on this aspect in the post-match presser.
The Bangladesh captain also has his doubt, whether his bowlers had the self-belief to defend 264 at the halfway stage or not.
Shakib Al Hasan, another senior pro of this team also echoed the same feeling like his captain.
“Yes, as he [Mashrafe] said, we need to improve our mindset. Still, we are yet to know how to react on these situations [high-profile matches]. So it is important to win matches to change our mindset. We can only learn through winning these important matches. If you see, of late we won matches regularly to reach thus far [Improve our cricketing standards]. We have gained confidence from that. But to go to the next stage, we have to overcome this mental block [in big matches],” the world number one ranked all-rounder said after Thursday’s defeat.
Bangladesh can leave the United Kingdom, holding their head high. No one expected them to reach this far in the competition. They not only justified their inclusion in this elite tournament after 11 years, the Tigers showed the world a glimpse of the huge potential, which they possess.
However, to get to the next level, Bangladesh should learn how to win these big games and as their captain pointed out if they can overcome this mental battle, anything is possible.
“The same young players will be back in England [for the World Cup in 2019] and they’ll do better than this time. And once you are ready mentally, anything can be possible.”
As an admirer of Bangladesh cricket, I hope Mortaza and his boys will be better prepared in two years’ time.