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20 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Tigers’ downhill spiral shocks cricket fraternity

Team management should have read wickets’ character carefully
Sports Reporter
Tigers’ downhill spiral shocks cricket fraternity
Sri Lanka cricketer Amila Aponso (R) celebrates after the dismissal of the Bangladesh opener Tamim Iqbal (L) during the second Twenty20 match at Sylhet International Cricket Stadium on Sunday. AFP PHOTO

When Bangladesh wrapped up another successful home series against Australia in September last year, the country was destined to reach the eternity. But in the space of just less than six months, they found them going downhill spiral because of two successive humiliating series defeat—against South Africa at away and Sri Lanka at home.

Bangladesh’s away record wasn’t encouraging, so a 7-0 loss across three formats didn’t raise eyebrow that much. However the defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka at familiar condition left the team’s future at stake. What is alarming is that Bangladesh didn’t loss any series such humiliating fashions at home since 2014. Sri Lanka was the team last team to give Bangladesh a nightmare and they are again the team in their first visit in the country since then to humiliate Bangladesh. In between Bangladesh toured Sri Lanka in 2017 and drew the series across three formats, so the magnitude of the humiliation is understandable.

Bangladesh were not whitewashed apart from T20 series in fact but still it hurts. It hurts more because the expectation was high on them despite being whitewashed in South Africa. The long home series started with tri-nation one-day tournament involving Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka, a tournament in which Bangladesh for the first time began as highest ranked team. Other than clinching the trophy for the first time in a tournament more than two teams was deemed as shocking. Bangladesh were outright favourite and they started like favourite winning three straight matches --one against Sri Lanka and two against Zimbabwe and expectation soared again. They confirmed the final on the back of three victories, making the fourth match against Sri Lanka a dead rubber. They were relaxed and paid the price by being all out for 82 and thereby lost the match by 10 wickets. Sri Lanka got the necessary fuel and back on track while Bangladesh’s problem amplified by the finger injury of team’s mainstay Shakib Al Hasan, a injury that eventually ruled him out from the entire series.

However Bangladesh was expected to win the final still, only to find them in a position of embarrassment. They tried to blame the wicket but truth was that Bangladesh couldn’t make any resistance against a resurgent Sri Lankan team.

Then came in Test series. A flat pitch still left Bangladesh in a position of defeat but they survived showing a fighting spirit on day five. However there was no respite in the second Test in which they came up with a bold approach, preparing a turning wicket, which was very familiar for Lankan team. Their spinners proved to be much more superior than the home spinners and clinched the Test series. Their intention to get a result was praiseworthy but there was question as to why they gave such sort of wicket when they had no Shakib Al Hasan. The same script was seen in the two-match T20 International series also.

There might be a post-mortem of the series, even technical director Khaled Mahmud wanted a thorough investigation. Mahmud was so disturbed in the wake of huge criticism that he said he won’t continue in the position after the series. However perhaps it was not tough to find the reason of such meek surrender.

Bangladesh was without any coach in the series because BCB didn’t find anyone after the sudden resignation of Chandika Hathurusingha. The BCB officials were of the opinion that they could get away without a head coach in the series and they had an option ready in Khaled Mahmud. Shakib Al Hasan and Mashrafe Bin Mortaza were considered as shadow coach to aid Mahmud, however none of Shakib and Mashrafe were with the team when it lost the way. Shakib had injury while Mashrafe wasn’t playing Test cricket and he retired from the T20 version.

Bangladesh used as many 28 players during both the series, but could not avoid selection controversy. When Shakib got injured before the Test series, they called up three spinners as his replacement only to play none in the first Test.  In the second Test, they dropped Mosaddek Hossain to pick an out-of-form Sabbir Rahman, which proved to be a blunder. Mosaddek understandably has a good technique for the longer version and he did not play very badly in the first Test either. His 53-ball eight was crucial for the team in securing a draw. Yet he got the chopping in the next Test. Selectors picked six uncapped players for the Twenty20 series before BCB picked their captain. Selectors thought Shakib would be leading the side without knowing enough about the state of his injured finger.

Hathurusingha fact was also crucial. He knew everything of the side and knew how to stall the momentum of the team by attacking the weakness and he did so after Sri Lanka lost two straight matches. Shakib’s injury was a huge blow but that shouldn’t be excuse. Sri Lanka too didn’t get their full-strength side as regular skipper Angelo Mathews missed almost entire the series while Kusal Perera got injury halfway through the series. The main reason in fact was Bangladesh’s momentum was dented after three straight victories due to Hathurusingha’s knowledge on how to take away the momentum from the hosts.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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