Published: December 13, 2010
If the 3-1 series win over Zimbabwe was the ideal end to 2010 the Tigers had hoped for, the upshot of this success is far more important as they approach the home stretch of their World Cup preparations.
Bangladesh have won nine matches out of 27 ODIs they played this year, including the landmark 4-0 win over New Zealand in October and a single win over England back in July. But playing probably their penultimate series before the major tournament, the Tigers showed the tendency to strengthen their basics and iron out some of their flaws in the latter part of this year.
Of course the five wins over higher-ranked opponents don’t quite paper over the cracks but the elusive winning habit has again befriended the Tigers before a World Cup, a tonic that worked almost to perfection during the 2007 edition.
Apart from the “shock” defeat (according to skipper Shakib Al Hasan) in the first game, the Tigers were not exactly ruthless but showed a certain “bigger team mentality” against the Zimbabweans over the past two weeks. Spin was put to devastating effect in the second game, also the game when two of the middle-order battlers struck important fifties. The next game saw the return of Mashrafe Bin Mortaza’s bowling form while the skipper continued his fine touch with the bat. An abandoned game later, Tamim Iqbal also eased back into form after missing the New Zealand series due to a wrist injury, the left-hander hitting a Bangladesh record of seven sixes in his 95.
“If I were to pick out the positives, I would say that the top-order made runs today. The fast bowlers also came to the party in the last two matches of this series after doing well against New Zealand. Fielding too was good in this series like the last one,” said Shakib in the post-match press conference yesterday.
“There was consistency in our desire to do well. When the team wins, a lot of the mistakes get passed over. And a winning team has a different outlook, you can see it in their faces that they are confident,” added the left-hander who made 156 runs in this series, taking his 2010 score to 787 runs from 27 matches.
Add that to his 46 wickets in the same format and you have probably the best all-rounder in the world. But Shakib thinks his bowling form in the last two series hasn’t been up to the mark, probably because he missed out on the 50-wicket mark in the calendar year.
“I don’t think I have bowled well in the last two series. From a team point of view, our Powerplay batting is an area we need to work on. Also, the batsmen who get in must make it a big one.
“They should stay till the end rather than making 50s and 60s, something that Gautam Gambhir is doing these days. He bats throughout and makes 110-115. We have to improve on these things and then we can be like the bigger teams. And of course, the in-form batsmen must also keep that going.”
Even in all this goodwill, middle-order batting remains the team management’s biggest headache, Shakib reflected that through a hint of warning to one of those fighting for a spot. “Rokibul should have scored at least twice in three games, like Junaed did twice in four games. But anybody can have a bad time, and in that case, we have the back-up,” said Shakib.
The Magura lad also admitted that the difference between the two sides that played yesterday was getting bigger by the day. “In terms of our performance, we are definitely ahead of them. Whenever we play our best, we can win against them, 90 per cent of the time,” he said.
Zimbabwe too were dissatisfied with their work during the series as coach Alan Butcher said that they were their own worst enemies. “Obviously Razzak was an obstacle but we were our main obstacles because we made unforced errors. When the top-score in the series is 210, you cannot be happy with that,” said Butcher.
“Fielding errors cost us 50 in the second game, 60 in the third and 80 in this one. These mistakes in low-scoring matches make life difficult,” he added.
Touring skipper Elton Chigumbura said that they still had some positives to take from the four matches. “I thought the spinners bowled well and Craig Ervine looked in good form,” the all-rounder pointed out