It was a game for ardent cricket fans to savour and a great advertisement for 50-over-cricket. In front of a near-capacity crowd at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur on Tuesday, the pulsating Bangladesh-Pakistan encounter proved that the format -- the middle child among cricket's three variations -- has no reason to suffer from an identity crisis. Once again however, tears were shed by the Tigers fans as yet another close match eluded their grasp.
The outcome of the match dominated discussions, painfully so, in all corners with people still trying to figure out what went wrong. Bangladesh deserve kudos for playing such an entertaining and high-octane match against top opponents like Pakistan and, in otherwise dark times, reminded their supporters of their ability in posting 326 for three. But as the dust settles the three-wicket defeat has left many asking questions about some of skipper Mushfiqur Rahim's decisions.
While one cannot discount the brilliance of Shahid Afridi and in modern times a 300-plus score is hardly a guarantee of victory, Mushfiqur will have to look at his tactics as a captain. Some may say that these questions would not have arisen if he had won the match, but as he lost the match and especially because it has been one more addition to a string of close losses this year, it warrants a little scrutiny.
It was fantastic to see the batsmen executed the plan to achieve their highest ODI total but for a captain it is always dangerous to bank on the single plan of action he walked out of the dressing room with before the start of play. Mushfiqur took over the job at a difficult time and was fantastic in regrouping the team after the debacle in Zimbabwe in 2011 under the leadership of Shakib Al Hasan. No one will question his commitment to the team, but by the same token very few will say that he is adept at thinking on his feet out on the field.
Bangladesh made five changes in the last game but why was Abdur Razzak included in place of Arafat Sunny? Sunny was in good form while his senior colleague was struggling. It is hardly good policy to overlook performance and blindly reward experience.
Having picked Razzak, it was inexplicable why he brought him on in the 48th over after Razzak had been struggling and while he had the option of using his best bowler, Shakib.
Probably the biggest mistake he made was not to bowl Ziaur Rahman for even one over. Zia has got the experience and he proved earlier that he has the happy knack of break partnerships. There have also been whispers that there was an ego clash which influenced the non-use of the third seamer. A good captain always tries to make the most of his options but Mushfiqur did not do that on Tuesday. If ego is the issue here then it seems, quite unfortunately, that Mushfiqur's captaincy will continue to suffer.