How We Did It
Me: “Abbu, Bangladesh jitse.”
Abbu: “ABAR jitse!?”
That was my dad's reaction after hearing that Bangladesh won their second successive match against the Kiwis. One can't really blame him for being surprised, considering that this is only the second time that Bangladesh has won a game without managing to lose the next one. So how did we pull it off?
The journey got off to a tentative start with a 9-run win by the D/L method. The Tigers' ace speedster and captain Mashrafe Mortaza suffered an ankle injury during the second over of the Bangladesh innings. While he regretted being WIA, he was more than happy with the win. “This is a nice birthday for me,” he says, turning 27 on the day of the first ODI.
The second game on Friday was a soggy affair, the match being cancelled due to bad weather. This left both teams disappointed, and itching to get back into the fray.
But after a D/L and a match abandoned, the Tigers finally had a chance to show the world what they were made of in the third ODI. A comprehensive 7-wicket victory delighted the 14,000-strong home crowd. Shahriar Nafees burst back onto the scene with a 73 after the whole ICL debacle, while Shuvo wowed us with his figures of 3-14 in 10 overs.
The fourth match in Mirpur also went to the Tigers. New Zealand reduced the hosts to 44-3 before Shakib put his foot down. The stand-in captain got a century off 113 balls, adding six more for good measure. It was the same Shakib who came back to bowl brilliantly after the break, despite a brave century from Kane Williamson. After a nail-biting finish, Bangladesh finally pulled through with a 9-run victory.
The fifth match was drama like nothing before. A disappointing 174 to start with made even the most hard-core Bangladesh fans give up hope. But once again, the bowlers took the initiative. With regular wickets, the situation seemed somewhat under control. Rubel Hossain struck the final blow with a well-judged yorker to dismiss the last struggling batsman.
That did it. Mirpur officially went crazy. Jumping, belly-dancing, flag waving, hugging (ahem), and sometimes all of that at once - Bangladesh spared nothing to show their ecstasy. The commentator on BTV had a field day. He finally had a chance to use that 'excited' voice he had been practising for so long in front of the mirror. Other channels were not far behind. Special bulletins were aired, and we got to hear Asif's 'Shabash Bangladesh' all over again.
But before you take out your laal-shobuj potaka and go running into the streets - take a long hard look at the highlights. It doesn't take much reading between the lines to see the characteristic Bangladeshi inconsistencies still at work in this series. The Tigers need to learn how to roar as a team. Bangladesh scavenged only 25 runs after Shakib's exit in the fourth game. And let's not forget the 44-3 before Shakib came in. Even worse was the batting in the fifth game. The less said about it, the better. This kind of over-dependence on individual performances is costing the team heavily. While the players go receive their bonuses - just for doing their jobs PROPERLY - they should remember that this is the same side that got beaten by Ireland not so very long ago. 24 wins from last 70 ODIs, only 9 of them against Test-playing nations, indicates that it's a little too early for celebrations.
Nevertheless, there are good things to take out of this series: The Tigers' new mantra of 'improvement with every match' looks to be working well for them. The fact that the wins come without the usual stars of Mashrafe, Tamim Iqbal and for some, Ashraful, is very encouraging; though coping without Shakib looks tough. But the young hero doesn't seem to be swayed by praise. He has made us proud by consistently topping the ICC player rankings, currently holding the titles of number one ODI all-rounder and the second-highest rated ODI bowler. Despite all that, he's hungry for more. “...I guess the gap after playing for Worcester has affected the bowling a bit and I need to work on that,” he says. Whatever he may think, there's no denying that it was him that saved the day.
As this article is being written, Bangladesh has been promoted to number eight on the ICC ODI team rankings table. When we look back at this series, ninety-nine percent of us will choose not to see the plot holes in this tale, focussing only on the epic-ness of it all. Maybe that's what makes cricket here so special. It doesn't matter whether we win or lose - we can still make a good time of it. But this time, we won. And the belly-dancing guys on the streets are here to make sure that everyone makes a GREAT time of it!
Quotes taken from: www.cricinfo.com