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Heartbreak again, but strides made in the right direction

  • Published at 11:56 am March 19th, 2018
  • Last updated at 08:41 pm March 19th, 2018
Heartbreak again, but strides  made in the right direction
Think about it, if someone told you that Bangladesh would be in the final of the tri-nation series against India and Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka, you’d probably have laughed it off. T20 is our weakest format, and apart from the Asia Cup in 2016, we really haven’t done too well here. But Bangladesh came agonizingly close to winning against India, and if they -- Mahmudullah and Shakib  -- weren’t run out, and if the fielders could have hit the stumps, and run out the Indian batsmen in return, things could have been different. But even as we recover from yet another heartbreak of losing in a final, that too against India, I saw some of the new cricketers show emotion and disappointment in defeat. Sabbir batted with a lot of heart and tried his best to take responsibility even after running the in-form Mahmudullah out. Miraz, who wasn’t fancied to score quick runs, did just that in the last over. Mustafiz was back to his best for a wicket maiden 17th over, leaving India with a mountain to climb. And Soumya, who was given the job to defend 12 off six was on all fours, despondent, as he got smacked for six off the last ball by the experienced Dinesh Karthik. Throughout the series, we have seen the experienced men step up. Tamim was decent, while Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah played match-winning knocks against Sri Lanka in back-to-back T20’s to help Bangladesh reach the final. In a way, they had both exorcised their demons of not having finished the job against India in the 2016 T20 World Cup. Which is why it may have felt like things could come full circle and finally go Bangladesh’s way in the final. There was talk of Bangladesh not being in their united best before the series, with the team and management being disjointed with Khaled Mahmud not wanting to be the team’s technical director after the series against Sri Lanka. BCB’s chopping and changing of the team along with their inability to find a long term head coach yet gave more reason for the most optimistic of supporters to be weary of the series ending with no victories, much less an appearance in the final. Heck, even the tournament organizers had Sri Lanka vs India written on the tickets for the final. You can say that Bangladesh choked yet again against India or choked again in a final, and that may not be wrong. But the way the team gelled together to put in three memorable performances and two victories, and most importantly, a heart-breaking defeat, will help allay thoughts that there might be a power struggle in the team. Even if there may be one, Shakib, in the two matches that he lead the team, has shown enough aggression with his field setup and been proactive with his bowling changes to get the up-and-coming players to care.
A defeat in the final might just give them the hunger and passion to take their game to the next level and perform their brand of T20 cricket as a unit
Especially the way he wanted the players to come off the field in the virtual semi-final showed that he was not willing to be taken lightly, and would not deal with any discrepancies in the field. I was disappointed though, to see that the players were rewarded Tk1 crore bonus for reaching the final. As if they needed any more money and I can’t imagine how overjoyed the players and the fans would have been to have won against India in the final. That probably would have papered over the cracks of some of the new players just wanting to be good enough to be in the squad but not looking to make those chances count and take the team forward. There were signs that the team was just going through the motions with the way they played and lost against India in the 1st match. Everything that we had come to expect from the seniors were being delivered, but it was the juniors that was failing to hold up their place. There were calls for Mashrafe to return to T20 cricket after a forced retirement from the board last year, but obviously that ship has sailed. But in small steps, with the seniors all stepping up they’ve finally managed to motivate the new crop of players (or so it seems). And a defeat in the final might just give them the hunger and passion to take their game to the next level and perform their brand of T20 cricket as a unit. The victory would have given us short term happiness, but the defeat might have just prepared us for a better long term future. Shahnoor Rabbani is a radio show host, and cricket commentator at Radio Shadhin 92.4 FM.
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