Straight Bat: Bangladesh score their highest ODI total but bowlers let them down
When the highest wicket-taker is Soumya Sarkar, a part-time bowler who opens the innings, big teams will not be taken down with this lot
By the time the woeful bowlers of Bangladesh—led by Mashrafe Mortaza—had leaked 381 runs, Australia had won the match. Thus, Bangladesh’s batting became a display of grit and fearless cricket, reaching their highest ever ODI total; but it was beyond them to win because this team is too misbalanced to go very far.
When the highest wicket-taker is Soumya Sarkar, a part-time bowler who opens the innings, big teams will not be taken down with this lot. The batters fought and won hearts but cricket is about winning, not gaining admirers. Bangladesh (BD) needs to conduct a gap analysis and fix the gaps it identifies. The ICC Cricket World Cup is not the only issue, the future of cricket is. Mashrafe’s last bowl out was so sadly symbolic.
Australia’s bowling strategy did not work
Australia (Aus) was well-prepared and knew BD bowlers had no sting. They hung around till a good time arrived and let loose a volley – that was scary. By the time they stopped to take a breath, the 4s and 6s decorating the score board said it all. David Warner with 166 was the mainstay but others chipped-in to build a skyscraper.
However, if Aus plan to contain, the batting was there but it did not work much. Wickets did fall but the score board ticked on. Shakib Al Hasan fell after a positive 41 but Tamim Iqbal scored 62, Mahmudullah 69, and Mushfiqur 102 in the semi final over; to reach 333 for 8. It could be a respectable score—on any day against any team—but not when the target is 381. However, the margin of defeat was under 50 runs and that was more about BD attitude than anything else. Great.
Plan for fifth place
BD need to face the fact that it cannot go far with this lot of bowlers. They are not capable of stopping the bigger teams – and victories till date, in this Cup, have come from batters not bowlers. This means planning for the remaining three matches – which are critical if they want to fight for the fifth or sixth spot. These are actually more competitive than the four semi spots which are already decided – as these are up for grabs.
BD will play Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan. Two of the matches are predictable—Afg at the bottom and India on the way to the top—but the Pakistan-Bangladesh match will be strongly contested. It is going to decide the fifth spot. The way Mushfiqur, Fizz, and Rubel Hossein went for runs was a “what-can-I-say?” type of response. Bangladesh will play South Asian teams from now on; they are familiar with each other so competition will be fierce regardless of the teams playing.
Meanwhile, fan optimism fed by media hype is becoming a fetish. Being positive is fine but it is no substitute for realism that can lead to wins.