Cricket World Cup 2019: Bangladesh dazzle but fall short
Shakib Al Hasan lit up the world cup with a dream all-round performance (AFP Photo)

“…this is the best I have seen of Bangladesh”.

Sachin Tendulkar’s above statement succinctly explains what he thought of Bangladesh‘s ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 campaign. A cursory glance at their record will show they won just two out of eight completed matches but a deep dive will reveal how close they came to beat the pre-tournament favourites (read India, New Zealand). The days of calling Bangladesh an easy opponent are long gone. And the latest iteration of ODI cricket’s showpiece event was a testament to that.

READ: Team of the Cricket World Cup 2019

While it’s a given that Bangladesh cricket has come a long way, there are certain areas the team still needs to work upon to be counted among the game’s elites. Consistency is the biggest of them all. The journey began on a sparkling note as they brushed aside South Africa in their opening game and ended after a resounding defeat to Pakistan where a win could have resulted in a respectable fifth spot. However, a sixth defeat meant they finished a lowly eighth among the 10 participating teams.

World Cup 2019 record: Played – 9, Won – 2, Lost – 6, No Result – 1, Points: 7; finished seventh

High Point: A superb start to their campaign as they beat South Africa, the 2015 semi-finalists, at Kennington Oval. A combined batting display with fifties from Shakib Al Hasan and Mushfiqur Rahim followed by quickfire knocks from the lower middle order fired them to 330/6. South Africa would have to set a new record if they hoped to chase down the target. The Proteas started well, built partnerships but Bangladeshi bowlers hit back regularly in a clinical performance holding them to 308/8 for a 21-run win.

Low Point: Against hosts and tournament favourites England, Bangladesh bowling fell flat. On a run-filled pitch in Cardiff, Jason Roy ran riot with 153 off 121 and fifties from Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler fired England to 386/6. And then all six Bangladesh bowlers leaked runs. Even the normally stingy Shakib couldn’t do much, going for 10 wicketless overs while conceding 71 runs. But Shakib more than made up for it with a classy century but failed to gather support around him to launch a real challenge. The next best came from Mushfiqur Rahim who managed 44 and Bangladesh were bowled out for 280 with England winning by 106 runs.

Captaincy verdict: Mashrafe Mortaza would want to forget this tournament as quickly as possible. He might be one of the greatest Bangladesh cricketers who has led the side impressively but during the world cup he failed on both the fronts – individual and captaincy level. His bowling performance was forgettable but more on that later. They also sorely missed his leadership skills and that too at crucial times. Against India, he opened the attack, conceded 10 runs in the very first over and immediately took himself out of the attack. India openers went on to add 180 runs. He would bowl just four more overs during the match. Bangladesh lost and were knocked out of semis contention.

Most Valuable Player: Bangladesh might have failed as a team but Shakib was their, in fact, one of world cup’s brightest stars. For some, he might even be the player of the tournament. In eight matches, he scored 606 runs – the third most by any batsman and with the ball he picked up 11 wickets. With the bat he averaged 86.57 including back-to-back centuries against England and West Indies. He was also the most economical bowler for his side. His 606 runs and 11 wickets in a single edition is a world cup record. Disappointing to see that such a performance didn’t result in at lease a semi-final appearance. But Shakib did seal his reputation of world’s best allrounder in an emphatic manner.

Major disappointment: Bowling and fielding in general and Mortaza in specific. They dropped eight catches during the tournament and their bowlers failed to contain opposition batsmen in the first 20 overs. Mortaza endured a horrible run – eight matches, 56 overs, 361 runs conceded, economy of 6.44 and just one wicket to show for.

Verdict: Bangladesh proved they are one of the strongest teams currently with batting their main strength. However, a team cannot hope for consistent results on the back of excellence in one department. Time and again, their bowling pulled them down. Left-arm pacer Mustafizur Rahman eventually performed well but by then it was quite late. Shakib was their most impressive bowler. They missed a genuine fast bowler – the importance of which was highlighted by the teams who finished among the top-four. Add to it poor fielding. Major work needs to be done in bowling and fielding.

Statistics

Most runs: Shakib Al Hasan – Runs: 606, Average: 86.57, 100s: 2, 50s: 5, SR: 96.03

Most wickets: Mustafizur Rahman – Wickets: 20, Average: 24.2, Fifer: 2, SR: 21.6

Highest individual score – Shakib : 124*

Best bowling figure – Shakib: 5/29