Tigers save their worst for the last
Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza’s World Cup career was brought to an inauspicious end as the Tigers saved their worst performance for their final 2019 World Cup match, which they lost to Pakistan by 94 runs at Lord’s yesterday.
Although on paper it was a dead-rubber match, with Pakistan needing to win by an outrageous margin to find a semifinal place and Bangladesh already booted out of the race by their 28-run defeat to India on Tuesday, the Tigers had much to play for.
A win would have extended a dominant run against Pakistan to five successes on the trot and would also have given Bangladesh the fifth spot in the table. But their failings throughout a campaign that impressed outsiders came back to haunt them with a vengeance, resulting in Pakistan benefitting from a poor fielding effort and scoring around 30 or 40 runs more than what seemed to be a par score on a slowish track. For once in the tournament, Bangladesh’s batting could not put a positive spin on a defeat as the Tigers folded for 221 in just 44.1 overs in chase of 316. It was Bangladesh’s lowest total in eight matches of this edition.
The only positive for Bangladesh from the match, and it has been the same for much of the World Cup, was Shakib Al Hasan’s continued brilliance with the bat. The left-hander top-scored with 64 and that saw him make it back to the top of the tournament’s run-scorers’ list. He also became the only batsman after Sachin Tendulkar in 2003 to have seven 50-plus scores in a World Cup. Having finished on 606 runs, he is also the third batsman in World Cup history -- after Tendulkar and Matthew Hayden -- to go past the 600-run mark in a single edition of the mega event.
Mustafizur Rahman also picked up his second five-wicket haul on the trot, which shot him up to second in the tournament’s wicket-takers’ list, but that he gave away 75 runs while doing so spoke volumes of Bangladesh’s plight in this tournament -- a bowling and fielding unit that has just not been up to scratch.
In chase of a total that seemed manageable, especially after Bangladesh had cantered past West Indies’ 321 in Taunton on June 17, the disheartening aspect was the lack of fight displayed by the Tigers in the chase. Tamim Iqbal’s underwhelming World Cup met a tame end when a brilliant off-cutter from Shaheen Shah Afridi in the 11th over snuck through his defence and disturbed the furniture, dismissing Bangladesh’s leading run-scorer for eight off 21 balls. Soumya had departed earlier, hitting Mohammad Amir straight to point in the sixth over. That it was not going to be Bangladesh’s day was evident when Mushfiqur Rahim -- the other man in form -- inside-edged a Wahab Riaz delivery onto his stumps in the 18th over to leave the score on 78 for three.
Shakib persisted, seemingly batting on a different wicket than his teammates, and put on 58 for the fourth wicket with Liton Das, but Liton’s second soft dismissal in a row, check-driving Afridi to cover, was followed swiftly by Shakib’s dismissal, caught behind off the same bowler in the 33rd over.
With their talisman back in the hut and the score reading 154 for five, the fight had left the Tigers completely. Mahmudullah Riyad, coming back into the side after missing the match against India because of a calf muscle tear, scored 29 as Mosaddek Hossain and Mohammad Saifuddin came and went. Mahmudullah was eighth out to Afridi, who completed a five-wicket haul with a swinging yorker that bowled Mahmudullah off his toes. Mashrafe came in and gave the crowd something to cheer about with sixes off Shadab Khan and Afridi, but was stumped off the former in the 44th over. Afridi then did not waste any time, bowling Mustafizur with a yorker to end up with figures of six for 35 -- Pakistan’s best individual figures in a World Cup.
Earlier, Pakistan’s innings was based around a 157-run second-wicket stand between centurion Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam. Babar, however, was given two lives in successive overs. Mosaddek Hossain dropped him off Mustafizur at point in the 26th over when the batsman was on 57 and then Mushfiqur Rahim failed to get a glove to an edge in the following over off Mosaddek’s bowling.
Instead of halting a threatening partnership that was yet not past the century mark after seven overs and leading up to Babar’s life had produced just 24 runs, Bangladesh conceded 43 runs in the five overs following Mosaddek’s miss. Mohammad Saifuddin was taken for two boundaries in the 32nd over but he broke through with the last ball, trapping Babar in front for 98-ball 96.
Imam then picked up the pace and reached his seventh ODI century off 99 balls, but was out to a freak dismissal off his next ball, when he stepped on to the stumps while flicking Mustafizur off his hips to be out hit-wicket in the 42nd over.
The score was then on 246 for three and Mehedi Hasan Miraz -- the only Bangladesh bowler to make use of the slow conditions and keep a lid on the scoring -- made it 248 for four in the next over by getting Mohammad Hafeez caught at deep square leg.
Mehedi ended with figures of one for 30 from 10 overs -- no one else other than Shakib conceded runs at less than six an over. Mustafizur dismissed Haris Sohail to bring up his 100th ODI wicket in his 54th match.
In the 48th over, he surprised everyone and perhaps even himself when he took a brilliant catch, diving to his left and plucking the ball one handed inches off the pitch, to dismiss Shadab Khan off his own bowling.
Like he had done against India, Mustafizur took two wickets in the last over, dismissing Imad Wasim -- whose 26-ball 43 gave Pakistan the late-overs momentum -- and Mohammad Amir.
Like against India, however, it proved to be too little too late as Bangladesh’s fielding and bowling in the early stages cost them one last time.