One game a time, Bangladesh stride towards T20 self discovery
Ever since Bangladesh have alighted in Colombo, there’s been a fascination for using a new term called ‘Bangladesh brand of cricket.’ Ask the players about it, and the answers seem loose, but if one had to put together all ends of it, the definition closely amounts to ‘playing smart cricket’. It’s not a new look Bangladesh team, it’s the same bunch which was clueless in the middle of an embarrassing losing streak in T20Is, but through two outstanding wins in the Nidahas Trophy, both over hosts Sri Lanka, the tourists have seemingly unlocked a new avatar in this format.
If the 214-run chase was incredible, the 160-run chase on Friday (March 16) came under stifling pressure, and amid the onfield shenanigans on either side of the boundary, Bangladesh managed to pack a punch, overcoming the dominant prevailing mood of anguish and frustration. There were a few issues spoken about when Bangladesh had arrived. Their poor T20 cricket revolved around their inefficacy through the middle overs with the bat, and lack of penetration with the ball, both at the start and in the middle of the innings. But as the tournament wore on, Bangladesh went about ticking one box after the other. If it were the 55 dot balls that cost them their first game against India, they turned their middle-overs play upside down in the record chase with smart batting coupled with cognizant running between the wickets. If the next glitch was about not being explosive enough in the powerplay period, they replaced Soumya Sarkar, one of their most consistent T20 batsman, with Liton Das in a bid to counter Akila Dananjaya’s challenge. In that game, they had conceded 70 in the first six overs themselves, but returned to score 74 in the chase. Their spinners, too, had faced some criticism when at the same time the likes of Washington Sundar and Yuzvendra Chahal had things under control. In Friday’s contest, even that was taken care of as Shakib returned figures of none for 9 in two overs while Mehidy Hasan picked up 1 for 16 in four overs.
However, one swallow doesn’t make a summer and thus Bangladesh had to chase down 160 in their virtual semifinal clash, not to prove their detractors wrong but to assure themselves that the last time wasn’t a flash in the pan. Bangladesh started off brilliantly and had, at one point, choked the hosts to 41 for 5. However through two breakthrough overs off Mustafizur Rahman, Sri Lanka found their wheels back and posted 159 on the board. Bangladesh then lost both Liton Das and Sabbir Rahman early but Tamim Iqbal ensured that he didn’t go overboard. In a partnership with Mushfiqur Rahim, the duo added 64 runs off 52 balls. Of those 64 runs, 33 came in singles and couples, and every boundary that Tamim scored was a low-risk shot, more focused on putting the bad ball away. The asking rate wasn’t too high but the approach employed by two of their senior-most batsmen came as a soothing surprise, who didn’t look to force matters at all. Except two overs during their partnership that went for less than six an over, every over fetched them around 10 runs an over, without needing to take many risks. The only time Tamim tried to outdo himself was when he was caught brilliantly off a thin edge by Kusal Janith Perera. Rahim, who had perished in the previous over, had departed attempting a fancy shot, too.
England continued to chip away with wickets and picked up two crucial wickets to inch …