How Bangladesh fared in Cricket World Cup
Bangladesh were expecting their best-ever World Cup this time around in England and Wales riding depending on a mixture of youthful talent, and in particular the experience of five players, who were each playing their fourth World Cup.
In the end, the Tigers failed to live up to expectations in the showpiece event as they managed only three wins from their allotment of nine games, although one of those fixtures was rained out.
They did play some good cricket and had some good results but for a team that would like to keep rising on the world stage, that was not enough for their loyal fans to be satisfied.
Bangladesh got a dream start beating South Africa in their first game. But they failed to capitalise the momentum as they lost to New Zealand narrowly. Then, the rain prevented them to secure two more expected points against Sri Lanka.
Bangladesh never really recovered those early ups and downs in the tournament.
Star all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan though performed supernaturally throughout the event.
He scored seven 50-plus innings, two of them were centuries. At the same time, he scalped 11 wickets with his left-arm slow bowling.
Along the process, he recorded the best-ever all-round performance in the World Cup history. Shakib is the first cricketer to score more than 600 runs and take over 10 wickets in a single edition of the World Cup.
Although Kane Williamson in the end was adjudged as the player of the tournament, most observers would agree Shakib was the MVP at this year’s World Cup.
Despite the heroics of Bangladesh’s best-ever cricketer, Tigers failed to qualify for the semi-finals of the event which was their initial target.
Shakib’s premium all-round show was marred by his teammates who failed to bat according to the team plan, or bowl according to the match situation throughout the event.
Nightmarish bowling performances during the first 20 overs were Bangladesh’s biggest downside in the World Cup.
In most of the matches, captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza started the attack with the new ball. But he failed to fulfil the demands of the team as a strike bowler. Mohammad Saifuddin or Mustafizur Rahman was Mashrafe’s companions with the new ball, but they were not up to the mark either.
Due to back injury of Saifuddin, Rubel Hossain made it into the playing XI of the must-win game against India but failed to deliver.
In the end, Mashrafe got just one wicket in the biggest cricketing event. Mustafizur got 20 wickets, with an economy rate of 6.7, thanks to his back-to-back five-wicket hauls in the last two games against India and Pakistan.
But those late-shows did not help the fortunes of the team. In both those games, Bangladesh ended up losing, and thus ended Bangladesh’s last possibility to qualify for the semi-finals.
Saifuddin bagged 13 wickets but that was not something to turn things around for the Tigers in the World Cup.
The right-arm pacer used to play as a left-handed batting all-rounder in the age-level cricket for Bangladesh. But the team management decided to try him as a strike bowler instead of Rubel.
He did not do badly, particularly proving useful with his bowling at the death, but the Bangladesh bowling attack was always playing catch-up throughout their campaign, stung by the effect of always being a bowler short given Mashrafe’s ineffectual presence.
At the end of the World Cup campaign at Lord’s, Mashrafe, to his credit, did not hide from this fact. He blamed his bowling attack for the disappointing campaign.
“Starting from me to the others, our bowling has not been up to the mark in the World Cup. We should have taken early wickets to ensure dominance over the opponents. We failed to do so. Our fielding was also a big setback for us,” the captain told media.
Though the innocuous bowling attack was Bangladesh’s biggest failing, and poor fielding permeated all their games, the batting effort was in fact undermined at the top of the order.
Tamim Iqbal, one of the five seniors playing their fourth World Cup, came into this tournament with the opportunity to establish himself as a world-class opening batsman in front of the cricketing world’s eyes.
Inexplicably though, despite looking in good touch out in the middle, Tamim failed to produce even a single innings of note in 8 attempts.
His contribution amounted to 235 runs in eight innings at an average of 29.37, almost of half of what he achieved in the last four years. He got a number of starts, batting sedately (his strike-rate was a pedestrian- 71.6) but then getting out at crucial moments.
His own failures meant Tamim also failed to guide his young partner, Soumya Sarkar, who was taking up the more belligerent role in the partnership during the World Cup.
Soumya returned a strike-rate of 101.21 but his inconsistency and failure to score big runs undermined his reputation as a hard-hitter. Despite managing a good start he fell cheaply throughout the tournament, failing even to score a fifty, which is just not good enough for a top order batsman obviously.
Apart from Shakib, Mushfiqur Rahim was the only other Bangladeshi cricketer to show some batting prowess. He struck a hard-fought century against Australia, and also fifties against South Africa and Afghanistan.
But the downfall of others prevented Mushfiqur’s fighting innings’ true value to be realised.
In the end, it was Shakib’s World Cup.
Mashrafe said the team should have done better at least for Shakib. He also said sorry to Shakib because the team failed to get him a taste of the semi-finals.
Mashrafe’s leadership remains unparalleled but his fitness for top-level international cricket repeatedly came under the spotlight during the tournament.
A player of his stature and contribution to Bangladesh cricket must be allowed to choose the manner and timing of his own departure.
He is now an MP as well. That said, he has already been announced to be leading the ODI side in its next assignment, short tour of Sri Lanka, later this month.
Surely, he neither has another World Cup in him, nor a Champions Trophy. And, given the performance in the World Cup, Bangladesh’s preparations for those events should start now.