“In a tough World Cup like this, it is never possible to win every match. One can show the character to convey the message that they are here to win and the Bangladesh bowlers helped to convey this message, but this inspiring fight back should not hide the mediocre batting display, which requires a hard-check and the captain’s own performance requires the same as well”
In the span of two days, the Cricket World Cup 2019 has gifted three classic matches out of four. On June 3, Pakistan and England fought a terrific high-scoring contest at Trent Bridge. It seemed, the low scoring matches – scores around 200 to 250 – ensuring more chances of a simmering contest would not be evident in this edition of World Cup. But after the high-scoring nail-biter at Trent Bridge, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and New Zealand stepped up to prove, the 80s and 90s flavour in ODI cricket still have not vanished completely.
While the drama of moon-sighting committee of Bangladesh reached the level of a comical cinema, Sri Lankan bowlers were fighting hard to keep the hopes of their team alive in the tournament. The Blue Tigers from Asia clawed back into the rain-affected game match to shock the Lankan Lions by bundling them out for 201.
The target for Afghanistan was just 187 from 41 overs according to D/L method. But the Sri Lankan bowlers did not let their Asian counterpart to inflict a shocker – they escaped the Afghan scare, and what more important thing was – this World Cup bagged the first low-scoring thriller.
During the day of Eid-ul-Fitr in Bangladesh, the Tigers followed the Sri Lankan way.
Their batting had been mediocre despite some brilliant starts, and managed to post 244 in their allotted 50 overs. For the likes of Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor such a total was not supposed to trigger a migraine headache with an aura, but as the game progressed, the Bangladeshi slow-bowlers and medium-pacers stranglehold the Kiwi batting line-up. The game went down the wire as New Zealand prevailed in an absolute thriller of a contest at the Kia Oval.
As a cricket fan, I cannot but praise the fight back of both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh under pressure and neither can I ignore the efforts of New Zealand and Afghanistan. But what the matches hide is, some mind-boggling batting display by the above-mentioned teams, which won’t help to dream big.
For many experts, Bangladesh are still rated as a dangerous underdog, but those who follow Bangladesh cricket closely, realize how good this team is and they are capable of going a long way in this tournament. Mentally this unit is very positive and their intent to fight back under any circumstances, has made them a team to watch over the years.
But still, at times, the mediocrity of old days shows up and threatens to spoil the party.
After being invited to bat first under the dark sky at the Oval, Bangladesh’s start was steady. Kane Williamson thought his new ball bowlers would be able to extract enough movement by pitching it full enough and then exploit the bounce of the wicket to test the Bangladesh openers. The deck did have movement off the air and not surface, but one thing Williamson forgot, Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar are well-equipped to deal with full and short of a length bowling. And they were dealing New Zealand’s new ball bowlers quite confidently.
But madness followed.
Soumya and Tamim attempted poor shots, which led to their demise. And when Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim looked set to rewrite another South-Africa-like-partnership, Mushfiq threw his wicket away by digesting a run out and then Shakib followed attempting to cut a goodish length ball from Colin de Grandhomme. The rest of the batting line-up failed to graft any productive partnerships and kept on getting out while executing some poor shots.
Even though the bowlers showed the guts to defend such a total, which could have been around 280-290 had the batters not been insensible enough. Getting out to better deliveries is one thing while walking for the pavilion after scripting a poor shot is something else. Such execution of shots only dents the confidence, which is hard-earned by defeating a top team like South Africa.
In a tough World Cup like this, it is never possible to win every match. One can show the character to convey the message that they are here to win and the Bangladesh bowlers helped to convey this message, but this inspiring fight back should not hide the mediocre batting display, which requires a hard-check and the captain’s own performance requires the same as well.
Frankly speaking, other than captaincy, in last two matches, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza’s performance had been below average. Even though his bowling was toothless but field placement and bowling changes were impactful against South Africa, but against New Zealand, he looked a tad defensive as captain, and while bowling, he never looked confident enough to give a breakthrough.
Mashrafe did not engage a slip while the pacers were operating with two new batsmen at the crease. Any captain would have done that while defending such a total. Even I think, he should have gone with one slip and a short leg against the tail while operating with a spinner. It would have built pressure.
Then, despite knowing the fact, Shakib and Miraz are his strike bowlers, he should not have finished their full quota too early. With Mashrafe, himself, bowling badly, automatically, Bangladesh are one bowler short and thus, it would be important to exploit the available resources smartly.