Familiar Bangladesh frailty resurfaces

Man-of-the series Shakib Al Hasan here being presented with the wrong cheque


By Jaideep Varma and Jatin Thakkar

Pakistan 236/9; Bangladesh 234/8 (Pakistan won by 2 runs)

The scorecard of the match is here.

It has become legend to associate choking with post-Apartheid South African cricket teams. But perhaps the country that should be associated with it the most is Bangladesh. Not being able to overcome pressure often enough is the main reason why Bangladeshi teams have not achieved greater things in cricket. Talent they have never lacked, nor the passion to get deeper into a scrap, often not even the discipline required to organise a win. But more often than not, when things got hot in the kitchen, they slipped.

Like on Thursday night when the match was theirs to be won. The bowlers had done a great job in restricting Pakistan to 236 (would have been even better if the last over had not yielded 19 runs). They began well too – it was 68 for no loss in the 17th over. Soon, it was 81-3 with a well-set Tamim Iqbal giving it away. Later, it was 179-4 in the 44th over – when Shakib Al Hasan, in excellent touch otherwise, played the last in a series of inexplicably risky shots and perished. At 190-5, captain Mushfiqur Rahim played an absurdly over-adventurous loft – the shot selection suggested they were too nervous to get the runs the reliable, but harder, way. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, Nazimuddin made 16 in 52 balls and Nasir Hossain 28 in 63 – paralysed by the fear of losing. They needed just 9 runs in 6 balls, there were overthrows in the middle of the over, and still they couldn’t do it. They did not know how to win. Too many emotions came in the way.

The primary IMPACT observation in all this is – Bangladesh never, at any stage of their innings, faced the pressure of falling wickets out-of-proportion to the norm in the match. This suggests that they had the match under control most of the time, and yet somehow they unfathomably lost.

Through so much to admire about Bangladesh’s performances right through this tournament, and even this match, the message that came through was that Bangladesh are not ready to be world-beaters yet. But they may be closer than they have ever been before – there have been enough signs of that lately.

Here is the final through the Impact Index prism.





Observations:


Shakib Al Hasan was the highest impact player in the match. As he is for Bangladesh in ODI cricket history, he was the highest impact batsman as well as bowler in the match. As the 5th-highest impact current ODI player in the world (minimum 75 matches; after Kallis, Dhoni, Watson and Tendulkar), Shakib had everything going for him in this innings when he began to take completely unwarranted risks, and finally perished to a poor shot. When dismissed for 68 in 72 balls (IMPACT 3.88), he would have perhaps hoped for a team effort to see them through. It did come through Mortaza (18 in 9 balls; IMPACT 1.34) and Mahmudullah (17 in 16 balls; IMPACT 0.99) but it just wasn’t enough.

Shahid Afridi was the second-highest impact player in the match behind Shakib (but received the Man-of-the-Match award because of this utterly flawed idea that a member of the winning team should receive it). He had an all-round impact in the match (32 off 22, Batting IMPACT 2.87; 1 for 28 in 10 overs, Bowling IMPACT 2.27). He absorbed pressure at 133-6 (Pressure IMPACT 0.70), and overcame it brilliantly with a Strike Rate IMPACT of almost as much (0.67) – not a common occurrence at all. While bowling, he actually had the highest Economy IMPACT in the match – thus affecting the flow of runs decisively both with the bat and the ball.

Tamim Iqbal, the second-highest impact batsman for Bangladesh in the match, yet again (fourth consecutive fifty) gave the much desired start to Bangladesh’s innings. His well-paced innings (60 off 68 balls, Strike Rate IMPACT 0.26) ensured that Bangladesh kept the required run-rate in check in the first part of their chase despite Nazimuddin’s over-cautious approach.

Saeed Ajmal
was the highest impact bowler for Pakistan in the match. His tight overs (2 for 40 in 10 overs; IMPACT 2.83) kept Bangladesh’s run-rate in check. Aizaz Cheema was expensive (3 for 46 in 7 overs; Economy IMPACT - 0.61), but his three wickets came at crucial times and his tension-fraught last over clinched the issue for his team.

Pakistan dealt with pressure outstandingly right through the match – the main reason why they prevailed. While batting too, they were 19-2, then 70-4, then 133-6 but along with Afridi, wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed played a superb innings (46 off 52; IMPACT 3.43) at the end with a Pressure IMPACT of 0.70. Interestingly, Md Hafeez (Pressure IMPACT 0.84), Umar Akmal (Pressure IMPACT 0.89) and Hammad Azam (Pressure IMPACT 0.89) all absorbed considerable pressure before that – if Bangladesh had displayed even a quarter of their combined effectiveness under pressure, they would have made history. 

While Abdur Razzak for Bangladesh had the highest Economy IMPACT in the match (0.98), his effort was almost entirely washed off as Shahadat Hossain had a huge negative Economy IMPACT in the match (-0.97), almost entirely attributable to his last over of 19 runs in Pakistan’s innings.

In the end, Bangladesh lost the match more due to their poor shot selection while chasing after Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal (Bangladesh’s highest impact batsmen in the match) had set it up well (both of them were sadly guilty of the same too). Overall, Pakistan’s Team IMPACT in the match was 1.95 compared to Bangladesh’s 1.75. So near, yet so far.

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