Without the two stalwarts Shakib Al Hasan and Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh put up a fighting total of 279 for seven against India in their Asia Cup opener at the Fatullah Cricket Stadium. The total came about through a welcome return to disciplined batting led by none other than skipper Mushfiqur Rahim, who cracked a splendid hundred, the second by a Bangladeshi against India after Alok Kapali. Bangladesh's top batsmen showed yesterday after India put them in to bat first on the placid track that they know how to pace an innings, which they sometimes forget, with disastrous results.
The lack of discipline was the major issue behind their poor showing in the recently concluded series against Sri Lanka that had resulted in the Tigers entering the Asia Cup with low morale. After close contests in the T20 series a great opportunity in the first ODI against Sri Lanka was squandered for lack of proper application and that continued in the next two games.
Considering the conditions the home side might have been 15 to 20 runs short from the expected total after a 133-run third wicket partnership between opener Anamul Haque and ton-maker Mushfiqur laid the foundation; but there were reasons for Tigers to breathe a sigh of relief.
It could have been much better had Nasir Hossain regained his rhythm instead of swishing at a slower delivery from India's most successful bowler Mohammed Shami to be caught behind by keeper Dinesh Karthik, who dropped the batsman in the previous over. It was a crucial time for Bangladesh as they needed to accelerate in the last four overs to touch the 300-mark.
The most beautiful part of the Bangladesh innings was the way Mushfiqur and Anamul handled the two spinners in Ravindra Jadeja, who has a tendency of producing breakthroughs at crucial stages of the match, and Ravichandran Ashwin. Also, they did not fall into the trap of playing unnecessary big shots, even though the ferocious cheers from the capacity crowd may have tempted them. This restraint was completely missing in the last series.
Indians had a ploy with short balls and opener Shamsur Rahman, displaying poor technique, was trapped by a short ball from Shami. When one-down batman Mominul Haque walked back with the score on 49 for two after playing two magnificent cover drives, many anticipated another poor batting show from the Tigers. But the determined Mushfiqur joined young Anamul to write a different story. Anamul started fortuitously but then played with patience and maturity, which was why it must have rankled to miss a hundred as the right-hander was dismissed for 77. On the other hand, except some poor paddle shots, Mushfiqur was brilliant in his innings and those he hit, he made sure that they stayed hit. The 113-ball 117 was a controlled and purposeful innings from Bangladesh's little master; his second ODI hundred.
Regardless of whether they won, after the horrors of the Sri Lanka series, this much-improved performance will stand them in good stead for the tournament.