The record books will show that Bangladesh lost their only World Cup warm-up match by a hefty margin of 95 runs against India at the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff yesterday but apart from the meek surrender at the end, there was not much to be disheartened about for the Tigers as the game held lessons. Not least among those was a timely reminder of the quality of opposition they would have to face over the next month and a half.
The two teams seemed to have different expectations from the practice game. India, ranked number two in the world, had played their last ODI on 13 March, which was the third consecutive game they lost to Australia to surrender a series 2-3 at home. They were then outplayed by New Zealand in their first warm-up, and it would have been imperative for skipper Virat Kohli to get to the World Cup with a win under his belt.
Seventh-ranked Bangladesh, on the other hand, had romped to their first ODI multi-team trophy in Ireland just 11 days previously, swatting aside West Indies and the hosts on their way to the title. Understandably, it would not have been as much about getting a win as it would have been about finalising a team combination and a strategy on how to play in these conditions.
Despite them surrendering their last eight wickets for 93 runs, the match was lost when conceding 359 for seven, which would always have been difficult to chase against arguably the best and most varied attack among the 10 World Cup teams.
Bangladesh had started well with the ball after skipper Mashrafe Bin Mortaza won the toss and chose to field first. Mashrafe and Mustafizur -- who dispatched India opener Shikhar Dhawan in the third over after a rain-delayed start -- allowed just 34 runs for one wicket in the first 10 Powerplay overs. Pacers Rubel Hossain and Mohammad Saifuddin then dispatched Rohit Sharma and Kohli respectively to have India on 88 for three after 20 overs. That the Tigers then conceded such a mountainous total was down partly to superb batting from centurions Lokesh Rahul and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, as well as skipper Mashrafe experimenting with his bowlers -- a logical warm-up strategy as, with a more or less settled batting order, it is the bowling lineup that Mashrafe and the team management will have to agonise over ahead of their World Cup opener against South Africa on June 2.
The experimentation was obvious. Whereas in Ireland, specialist spinners Shakib Al Hasan and Mehedi Hasan Miraz were usually brought on within the first 15 overs, Mashrafe bowled all five pacers in the squad exclusively for the first 24 overs. In the last 10, during which India hammered 116 runs, instead of solely employing the pacers in himself, Rubel Hossain, Mustafizur and Mohammad Saifuddin -- as is usually the case with perhaps one or two overs from Shakib thrown in depending on the situation -- Mashrafe bowled part-time leg-spinner Sabbir for three overs, Shakib, Mustafizur and Rubel for two each and Abu Jayed -- who was having a torrid time already -- for the penultimate over which leaked 21 runs.
Not that the experimentation excused the poor cricket that popped up from time to time. Bangladesh did not manage a single direct hit and the spinners -- usually run containers whatever the condition -- conceded 160 runs from 19 overs for three wickets which were produced by Indian wild heaves in the last 10 overs.
When batting, a 49-run stand between openers Soumya Sarkar and Liton Das -- first-choice opener Tamim Iqbal was rested as a precautionary measure after he experienced some discomfort while taking a fall during fielding practice the previous day -- and a 120-run third-wicket stand between Liton (73 off 90) and Mushfiqur (90 off 94) showed that batting would be easy on the wicket. The batsmen however failed to utilise the opportunity and seemed to be caught between going for a win and getting some valuable batting practice against a good attack. It revealed a lack of planning, because even if going for a win, leaving wickets for a late charge would have been the way to go. Instead, from 169 for two, Bangladesh fell to 216 for eight, effectively ending any chances of an interesting finish. On three separate occasions -- in the 10th over by Jasprit Bumrah, the 32nd over by Yuzvendra Chahal, and the 40th from Kuldeep Yadav -- wickets fell off consecutive deliveries with Shakib, Mohammad Mithun and Mosaddek Hossain all falling for first-ball ducks.
That is something that they will have to remedy soon as unlike against Ireland or eighth-ranked West Indies, the batsmen cannot expect sighters from higher-ranked teams when they go in to bat.