A disappointing Bangladesh batting…….
Bangladesh made rounds in the fraternity when they beat Sri Lanka comprehensively in their opening encounter, but were completely outplayed against Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s rise in international cricket has been mesmerizing. They have inspired confidence in the Asia Cup so far and have hardly looked as minnows in the tournament, which they were assumed to be initially. Bangladesh were clearly the favorites going into the sixth encounter against Afghanistan, but the underdogs displayed some valiant performance to register a comprehensive victory and gain some serious momentum for the next round.
Both the teams had qualified for the second round, but this game was equally important for them. The question is – Was Bangladesh’s win against Sri Lanka just a flash in the pan? Or was it Sri Lanka’s mediocrity more than Bangladesh’s brilliance that helped them win? To be brutally honest, Sri Lanka did play some poor cricket and for Bangladesh, it was Mushfiqur Rahim’s brilliance that helped them emerge victorious. Their batting floundered and collapsed like nine pins, but one man stood his ground and gave his bowlers something to fight for.
Sri Lanka’s batting crumbled in the run-chase and lost the game by a massive margin. Sri Lanka did expose the weaknesses in their batting order, which was further exploited by Afghanistan. There is a huge possibility of them gaining false confidence from their win against Sri Lanka and Afghanistan’s bowling was always going to be a tough nut to crack, but Bangladesh’s spineless display with the bat on both the occasions was surprising. They surrendered the game without a fight as Afghanistan walked away with a massive 136-run win.
Afghanistan displayed everything in this encounter unlike Bangladesh, they outplayed them in all the three departments. When Afghanistan were in hot water, their depth in batting rescued the innings and wreaked havoc in the death overs. Bangladeshi bowlers leaked too many runs in the last 10 overs and failed to put brakes on Afghanistan’s run. Rashid and Naib took full advantage of their weakness and scored heavily to milk 95 runs off the last 55 deliveries.
Afghanistan had a lethal bowling attack, any keen follower would have predicted them to defend this target, but Bangladesh’s failure to even out up a fight was disturbing. Afghanistan are widely reckoned for their variety in spin, but the new ball bowlers inflicted some early damage and made deep inroads in Bangladesh’s batting. Bangladesh never looked comfortable in the run-chase, Afghanistani bowlers were all over them and tightened the noose with the new ball.
Just when a partnership was building, Rashid Khan broke it with some guile. He trapped Shakib Al Hasan leg before after which, Mahmudllah was cleaned up by a peach of a delivery. The fact that not just one or two but almost all the Afghanistani bowlers had some role to play speaks about the variety and imapactful players they have. Bangladeshi batsmen looked clueless against their spin attack and a total of 119 in 42.1 tells the story. You don’t expect a well established side like Bangladesh to get bowled out for such a mediocre total in a 50 over game, especially when the pitch wasn’t a minefield.
Bangladesh were without Mushfiqur Rahim in this game, and the absence evidently hurt them. Who knows what total they would have achieved against Sri Lanka had Mushfiqur not got that match-winning century? Getting bowled for just 119 out to a newly established team like Afghanistan simply indicates that Bangladesh have a lot of questions to answer in their line-up. Their batting has flopped for the second time in two matches and the road ahead will not be easy by far.
It is safe to say, from a batting perspective, Bangladesh are a fragile side in the second round and one shouldn’t be surprised if they don’t end up winning a single game at all. It will demand some serious comeback from their players to pose any threat in the next round. This is where their character would be tested. India are the favourites while Pakistan and Afghanistan, both have done well with the ball. Bangladesh doesn’t have enough issues in their bowling, their bowlers have done well in both the games, it is their batting that needs some repair work and momentum going their way. Will their batsmen step up and deliver? Well, they play their next game against India and getting over such a big defeat in a day would be very difficult. In addition, India have had a way better record against them and should be able beat them convincingly in the next game unless Bangladesh spring a surprise, which they are known for.