Positivity in the air

The Daily Star  January 22, 2021
Sports Reporter

Barring a brief halt caused by a sudden outpour at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur on Wednesday in the first of their three ODIs against the West Indies, everything went well for Bangladesh on their return to international cricket after a Covid-19-induced 10-month break.

The pre-series focus had been on long-term planning and proper execution and, in that regard, the Tigers made a perfect start while also grabbing 10 points with a convincing six-wicket victory in their first match of the ODI Super League, the qualification pathway for the 2023 World Cup.

Premier all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan marked his return to Bangladesh colours following a year-long ban imposed by the ICC in 2019 for failing to report corrupt approaches by returning astounding figures of four wickets for eight runs from 7.2 overs and scooping the player-of-the-match award.

Tamim Iqbal’s attacking captaincy and him getting runs while leading the troops lent bright hopes of a secure leadership for the future in the post-Mashrafe Bin Mortaza era. Meanwhile, young pacer Hasan Mahmud’s fiery three-for on debut and Mustafizur Rahman finding his rhythm while a number of other promising pacers wait in the pipeline for a go hints towards a compact future pace attack.

On the back of all these positives, the Tigers would like to — and should — seal the three-match series with another win in the second ODI today. The Tigers did not let their guard down even after bundling the West Indies for 122 — their second-lowest total against Bangladesh in ODIs — in the first game and similar focus needs to be on display today.

Bangladesh came into the series with some major tweaks in their approach, one of which was to play Soumya Sarkar at number seven. The first match did not require Bangladesh to look too far down their batting order and how Soumya adapts to that role is yet to be seen.

It will be interesting to see how the left-hander, who usually opens the innings and is known for his sweet timing of the new ball, goes about his business lower down the order, where the prime requirement is to make quick runs through power-hitting.

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