As the cricket season unfolds, the Asia Cup has brought us thrilling matches and unforgettable moments. However, the encounter between Bangladesh and India in Colombo had a unique twist. It had all the tell-tale signs of a typical tour-ending affair for an eliminated team. Bangladesh, known for their poor performances in the last games on tours, were looking to salvage some pride. They made five changes in this inconsequential game, with one being a forced change and the rest seemingly aimed at testing their bench strength.
Bangladesh’s Approach to Bench Strength
Bangladesh’s strategy for this game was clear – resting their first-choice fast bowlers and giving opportunities to two top-order batters who had spent most of the tournament on the bench. Additionally, they handed an ODI debut to pace bowler Tanzim Hasan Sakib. With the World Cup squad yet to be announced, the Asia Cup and the upcoming three-match ODI series against New Zealand in Dhaka held immense significance for players, especially those warming the bench, to make a compelling case for selection.
Nasum Ahmed, Mahedi Hasan, and Tanzim Hasan Sakib stepped up to the plate, contributing a combined 87 runs from the lower order. Shakib Al Hasan and Towhid Hridoy rescued Bangladesh from yet another top-order collapse, but once they fell, Bangladesh found themselves in a precarious position. However, the lower-order batters played a total of 110 balls, hitting ten fours and two sixes to salvage the team’s innings. Nasum’s career-best 44, along with Mahedi and Tanzim’s fireworks, proved crucial in the end.
With the ball, the same trio accounted for four wickets from their combined 26.5 overs, conceding runs at a commendable rate of 4.91 per over. Nasum and Tanzim, though not recognized allrounders, played a pivotal role in Bangladesh’s consolation win over India with their contributions.
The Road to the World Cup
Head coach Chandika Hathurusinghe emphasized the importance of the win, stating, “[Beating India] is huge for us to go into the World Cup.” He praised the team’s depth and the opportunities given to emerging players during the Asia Cup. Hathurusinghe especially praised Mahedi Hasan, who had been struggling to secure a permanent spot in the XI. Despite being dropped after the first game in the group stage, Mahedi’s attitude, confidence, and crucial wickets in this game earned him recognition.
Tanzim Hasan Sakib’s performance surprised everyone, including Hathurusinghe, who believed the newcomer enhanced his World Cup chances significantly. Hathurusinghe said, “I am pretty confident that if I had to rely on him, he has done well for his chances.” With Ebadot Hossain’s absence for the World Cup, Tanzim’s emergence could be a welcome addition to Bangladesh’s fast-bowling options.
Room for Improvement
Despite finishing above Pakistan in the Asia Cup, not making the final will continue to rankle within the team. Hathurusinghe acknowledged concerns in the batting department and urged players like Towhid Hridoy to take their innings deeper. While Hridoy has been consistently scoring runs, he needs to convert his starts into substantial scores to bolster Bangladesh’s batting lineup.
In conclusion, Bangladesh’s consolation win over India in Colombo offered a glimpse into the team’s potential World Cup squad and the emergence of promising talents like Nasum Ahmed, Mahedi Hasan, and Tanzim Hasan Sakib. As they continue their preparations for the World Cup, Bangladesh fans can look forward to an exciting lineup with the depth and talent to compete at the highest level of international cricket.