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“They showed talent but missed the crucial moments in the big games”

If the previous edition of cricket’s biggest fair intimated the world about the fast-growing stature of Bangladeshi brand of cricket, this edition further concreted the fact that the days of their ‘pushovers’ image have been firmly buried into the dust. This edition was anything but uneventful. It had some solid batting along with patchy brilliance in the bowling department which ultimately culminated into campaign highlighting wins over South Africa and West Indies.

Also read: Clinical Bangladesh!

But all the accolades collected weren’t bereft of some pin-point criticism. Criticism about the fallacies which robbed them off a semi-final berth. Fallacies for which they themselves are to blame for. Here, in this review of their ‘so-near-yet-so-far’ World Cup campaign, we take a look at some talking points from their 2019 mega-fair journey.

What worked for them?

Their batting unit as a whole was their USP of the tourney as they pulled off the biggest chase of the competition (322 vs West Indies). The promotion of Shakib-Al-Hasan to the no.3 spot worked wonders as he ended up churning out the best all-round performance (606 runs and 11 wickets) in the history of the tournament.

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Bangladesh Cricket Board’s (BCB) decision to prevent Mustafizur Rahman from going into the T20 league in India proved to be hugely beneficial as the pacer went on to grab as many as 20 scalps despite ending up on a bit expensive note with an economy of 6.70 rpo.

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They crossed the 280-run mark on five occasions out of the 8 times they took the field and their commendable ‘never-say-die’ spirit against India nearly took them home if they hadn’t run into the deadly Yorkers of Jasprit Bumrah at the death.

What went awry?

Every team comes into the World Cup carrying the heavy dream of lifting the coveted World Cup trophy but the players’ group needs some inspiration to stick to their cherished motive in the tournament and it is the responsibility of the skipper to provide that inspiration to his team. Here, lay the biggest chink in the Bangladeshi armour – their skipper, Mashrafe Mortaza. One solitary wicket from 56 overs in the tournament spread across 8 appearances with a horrible average of 361 runs per wicket, Mortaza couldn’t have possibly dreamt of a worse World Cup campaign than what transpired in the past 35 days.

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Apart from Mortaza, other bowlers too failed to provide the required support to the incisive efforts of Mustafizur. Only Shakib’s 11 wickets at 36.27 runs apiece can be considered some sort of helping hand towards Mustafizur’s efforts. They badly missed the services of a strike bowler with the new ball along with a power hitter who can provide the impetus towards the back-end of the innings. The batting, even though looking respectable superficially, lacked a collective effort with Mushfiqur Rahim (367 runs) and Liton Das (184 runs) coming next best after Shakib’s 606-run effort. A team can’t win at the biggest cricketing extravaganza if it has only one player waging a kind of lone-battle with his willow. There’s a reason why cricket is a team game and Shakib’s herculean effort sums it up perfectly.

What lies in the future?

Introspection time lies ahead for Bangladesh now in which they would want to fill the gaps which caught them short in the semi-final race. Soumya Sarkar and Liton Das showed glimpses of their belligerent talent. Both require some persistence. Mohammad Saifuddin showcased fine temperament and needs some further leeway to work on the expensive side of his bowling (economy rate of 7.18 rpo). He can develop into a sound bowling all-rounder with a mastery of bowling skilfully at the death. The sun is setting quite rapidly for Tamim Iqbal and Mashrafe Mortaza while Mustafizur looks ready to be the leader of future Bangladeshi bowling arsenal.

As mentioned earlier, a power-hitter in the middle order and a bowler with incisive abilities upfront is the need of the hour for Bangladesh. They showed talent but missed the crucial moments in the big games. They have a young upcoming set of players who will learn the art of cashing in on the big moments against the big teams and hopefully that helps them in turning up as a more formidable version of the tigers which turned up this time for a mark at the biggest cricketing stage in the World.

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