Just before the start of first one-day international (ODI) between South Africa and Bangladesh at Kimberley, out of 12 ODI matches, only 3 were won by teams who batted first. Kimberley track favours the batsmen a lot and especially those who prefer to chase. But Bangladesh captain Masharfe Mortaza won the toss and decided to bat first which was not a correct decision. Even if the decision was not ideal, like Mushfiqur Rahim in five-day matches, he failed to back his choice as, firstly, he was let down by his bowlers and then, he was let down by his own strategies.

Bangladesh started their proceedings without the services of regular openers: Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar. Imrul Kayes went out to bat with Liton Kumar Das. Their start was cautious and at times very edgy. Faf Du Plessis took a brilliant catch at slip to end Liton Das’ stay while Dwaine Pretorious ended Kayes’ nervy stay at the crease. Those dismissals brought Bangladesh’s most inspiring duo at the crease together: Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim.  Both of them helped Bangladesh to stabilise, but overall, the Bangladesh innings lacked the effective acceleration.

Mushfiqur Rahim, free from his captaincy duties, played one of the most brilliant knocks in abroad by a Bangladeshi batsman. His shot selections were perfect and motored the innings with a great authority. At first, he stitched a 59-run stand with Shakib and then 69-run stand with Mahmudullah Riyad. While Mushfiq kept on scoring, the middle and lower middle order struggled to accelerate when it was needed the most. Mushfiq notched up a brilliant hundred and this century should make him realise, what a gem he is with the bat when he is playing without the burden of captaincy.

Saifuddin’s cameo propelled Bangladesh to 278 for 7 in 50 overs, but in my opinion, they were at least 50 to 60 runs short on this track, still, a disciplined bowling and thinking captaincy could have helped Bangladesh to defend this total.

But when Bangladesh came out to bowl, it turned out to be a sorry tale.

I could not understand why Mashrafe did not start the first over. In the 50-over format, he is the leader of the attack and quite experienced enough to bowl with and into the wind. But he started off with Rubel Hossain, who bowls well as first change, into the wind and even though he pitched the ball on a back of a length and full, perhaps the breeze blowing against him, hampered his line badly. To get the line right, Rubel bowled too straight and in ODIs, such kinds of stuff are a gift: Quinton de Kock picked up the delivery from middle stump and played his first boundary on the onside.

Mashrafe was bowling with the breeze, but I am not sure, why he struggled to adjust his line. Three deliveries of his first over were on the middle stump at which Hashim Amla cashed on easily.

Mashrafe and Rubel’s first spell was all about middle and leg stump line and it helped Amla and QDK  to settle easily. Masharfe went for a change. He replaced Taskin to bowl into the wind and Taskin was all over the place. Neither could Taskin pitch the ball on line nor could he get his line right – Amla and QDK raced to a 50-run stand.

Mash brought in Shakib and he was given a defensive field. Shakib attacked the middle and offstump, but it did not work as against a wicket-taking bowler, the field was set to stop runs and while bowling, such a ploy does not fetch you enough wickets.

Within ten overs, Mash already used his four bowlers and when they failed to capitalise, Mash went on the backfoot and as soon as the first twenty overs ended, Bangladesh never looked to come back into the game, because, their captain was out of ideas. Mash looked to stop runs and even he knows, this ploy doesn’t work as in a 50-over game, a captain needs to attack from one end and dry up the runs from another end.

Normally, Mashrafe is a very proactive captain and always has a plan B. But today, he looked a very helpless man. A lot depends on the captain to lift the spirit and when the captain is found helpless, the team automatically lose hope. The bowlers struggled but had Mashrafe himself bounced back to instil hope with a burst, the others would have reinvented themselves. Mash came to bowl after a long break from international cricket and many of us expected a lot from him. It is expected, he will bounce back.

Finally, the way, Bangladesh bowlers struggled to rediscover themselves simply left me speechless. It was these same pacers who shone brightly under the coaching of Heath Streak, but as soon as Streak left, it’s that same Rubel, Taskin and co have transformed into a bunch of mediocre products.


Certainly, Courtney Walsh’s work needs to be judged seriously. So far, he has delivered nothing.

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