Tuesday, August 16

Asia Cup Twenty 20: Tigers look for soul searching



Bangladesh cricketer Shakib Al Hasan (C) celebrates with teammates after the dismissal of unseen Indian batsman Yuvraj Singh during an Asia Cup Twenty20 match at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in the capital on Wednesday.

Ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan became overnight villain after his drop cost Bangladesh heavily in the Asia Cup opener. Rohit Sharma was batting on 21 when Shakib dropped a straight forward chance at point off Taskin Ahmed’s bowling. The Indian then took the game away with 83 off 55 balls.

Sharma indeed paid Bangladesh for let-off, by blasting his next 62 runs off just 27 balls. This was undeniably game changer but Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza chose not to be harsh on the senior player, the lone Bangladeshi player who played all the domestic T20 league around the world at regular basis.

“Obviously Rohit’s catch was the turning point. But these are part and parcel of a match. There will be dropped catches. Shakib is one of our best fielders. The reaction time was less. May be if Rohit got out earlier, we could have defended them around 135-140. Hardik batted well but it was Rohit who was the key as he batted till the 20th over,” a dejected Mashrafe said at the post-match press conference on Wednesday.

While Mashrafe didn’t mind considering it’s the part of the game, the fans didn’t take it easily. They took the social media outlet to troll the all-rounder, the only player from Bangladesh to reach the zenith in the three format of cricket’s all rounder ranking. Immediate after Bangladesh’s crushing loss to the Indians were confirmed, the fans started competing to harass Shakib by using offensive words and smearing his pictures in the social media outlet.

While Shakib was blamed for the loss, hardly anybody cared how badly the Bangladeshi bowlers bowled and how planned way the Indian went after the Bangladeshi bowlers. Learning from the defeat against Bangladesh in the last June, the Indian were more prepared and more determined. Their planned attack on Mustafizur Rahman and other fast bowlers evidenced their determination to bury the nightmare of June visit.

Mashrafe excessive praise on young Mustafizur didn’t help the cause either. Perhaps it could be the part of strategy when the captain announced ‘no strategy to deal with Mustafizur Rahman will work’ but the statement caused a reason to mock at him now.

Mustafizur’s two types of cutter-off and leg-which demolished much-vaunted Indian batting line up last time, didn’t fetch him any wicket this time. Indian seemed to have decoded it well, even his two cutters in his third over received monstrous six by Sharma and Hardin Pandya. He gave away 21 runs in that particular over and ended up conceding 40 in 4 overs, the most run given by him in T20 cricket.

Mashrafe however tried to explain that due to the dew the cutters didn’t work well.

“The grass on the wicket helped us and the new ball swung too. I think both teams bowled well in the first six overs. We were in the game for quite some time and even our spinners did well in these conditions. But I think since dew took over, the ball didn’t grip as we would have liked, particularly the cutters. With Rohit Sharma set in the wicket we also couldn’t bowl too full at him.”

The home side, perhaps influenced by India’s recent troubles on a similar pitch in Pune against Sri Lanka, went for a green top. Bangladesh’s decision to go with four pace bowlers was hardly surprising given their own success using four pace bowlers against India just last year. But it eventually backfired. Mashrafe and his coach perhaps couldn’t understand Indian wouldn’t be easy prey this time around.

It might have been a different game had they chased 140 or 150 but the question was raised, could the batting line up that they designed even chase those runs? An opener by default Imrul Kayes batted at No. 4 position while the three mainstays of batting — Shakib, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah batted at No. 5, 6 and 7.

When the asking run rate was increasing alarmingly, they had nothing to do but to succumb to the pressure. Rumours were rife that even Shakib wasn’t happy with his batting order as he couldn’t express him well in the position given him.

Last but not the least, Shakib wasn’t looked as fitter as he was used to. He looked tired all the way and has been a lean patch, perhaps the longest in his career. The man, who is always on spotlight, has now been out of the limelight for the last one and half year. The popular opinion is that it is as because Mashrafe Bin Mortaza suddenly emerged as the mythical character and Mustafizur stormed into the circuit with mysterious cutter.