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Tigers stunned and silenced

Fawaz Khan

Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim returns to the pavilion with his head down after playing an irresponsible shot against Sri Lanka during the first ODI at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Monday. — New Age photo  Bangladesh captain Mushfiqur Rahim returns to the pavilion with his head down after playing an irresponsible shot against Sri Lanka during the first ODI at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium on Monday. — New Age photo

There was something different about the loss to Sri Lanka in the first ODI on Monday; something that still hung in the air a day after Bangladesh incredibly managed to find a way to lose at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.
Maybe it was more disappointing because of the limited overs form that the home side had taken into the contest, having swept New Zealand 3-0 in their ODI series in October/November.
Even the two Twenty20 losses to Sri Lanka before this match had earned Bangladesh a measure of praise, with local commentators reasoning that they had played the best T20 side in the world to a virtual draw up until the last ball of each match, and that they were unfortunate not to win the first after some questionable umpiring.
Spirits were high, and the Tigers were not-so-quietly confident that they could produce a result in their favourite format when the ODI series started.
And yet on Tuesday that morale was completely shattered, with a BCB official denying media requests to meet with the players because they were not in the right ‘mental condition’ to speak. Notably, the team did not practise on Tuesday and instead opted to swim and stretch, which is a departure from their usual activities the day after a match.
Bangladesh have suffered dispiriting, even humiliating, defeats on home soil in the face of heightened expectations before, but in the past it was clear early in the match that the Tigers ‘just didn’t have it’ that day.
On Monday, however, they looked like they were very much at the top of their game before spectacularly self-destructing with the ball, with the bat and in the field.
After a masterful display of bowling and fielding crippled Sri Lanka to the tune of 67-8 in 21.3 overs, the hosts collectively turned into a pumpkin, dropping four catches and giving Thisara Perera three lives as he flayed the suddenly impotent bowlers around the ground to take his team to 180.
If home fans had begun at that point to feel a sense of foreboding that the Tigers had let yet another opponent off the hook, the batsmen soon gave them back what would ultimately prove to be a false sense of security, reaching 114-2 before Shamsur Rahman’s freakish run out seemingly caused the entire side to lose their composure and precipitated Bangladesh’s second collapse in one match.
Perhaps most gallingly for a team forced to field a number inexperienced players due to key injuries, it was the team’s most experienced and – one would have hoped – reliable campaigners who lost the plot during the chase.
Sakib al Hasan was run out courtesy a mix-up with captain Mushfiqur Rahim soon after Shamsur’s wicket, just as the side needed their two senior batsmen to steady the innings. Nasir Hossain then edged one to slip before Mahmudullah, once one of Bangladesh’s most reliable lower-order batsmen, continued his torrid run with a second-ball duck.
A wild Sohag Gazi slog later, Mushfiq was left to protect the tail and try to get past the finish line, but he instead became the latest batsman to lose his cool, wandering across his stumps and scooping it straight to the keeper.
With that, it seemed like all the progress the side had made in the past few months had been undone, all the lessons of the past unlearned. A side that had excited fans with an infusion of talent and fighting spirit once again appeared to have more questions than answers.




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