Tigers seeking solace in Eden
Bangladesh will sign off from the ICC World Twenty20 after they take on New Zealand at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata today. Although the game, which starts at 3.30pm, has only an academic interest for Bangladesh after three straight defeats -- including that heart-stopping one-run loss against India at Bangalore on Wednesday -- it will have a special focus since this could very well be the inspirational Tigers captain Mashrafe Bin Mortaza's last hurrah in an ICC World Twenty20
Although 33-year-old Mashrafe kept the inquisitive reporters guessing regarding his retirement plan from T20Is by saying that he would have to go back home first before making a decision, it is understood that his heavily strapped legs will not be as mobile as they are now after four years, when the next T20I World Cup will be staged in England.
So in that context his teammates, who are well aware of that, will try to give their mentor a perfect send-off from the World T20 stage when they face a team that they have played thrice but have never beaten.
New Zealand are the team in form in this World Cup and have already made it to the semifinals with three straight wins against Australia, India and Pakistan. This simple statistic is evident enough to see how tough a proposition it is for Bangladesh to score their only win in the tournament and return home with some sort of satisfaction in an emotional campaign, marred by the expulsion of two key bowlers and bordering between brilliance and bewilderment.
Mashrafe's men will still be licking the wounds of that one-run defeat from the jaws of victory against India when they will take the field at the Eden Gardens, where they suffered a stinging 55-run defeat against Pakistan ten days ago.
On that day Mashrafe lost the toss and that proved devastating for his team when Shahid Afridi returned with a rare blast from the past, something too overpowering to turn around.
Going by the last game at this very ground it will be absolutely vital for the captain to read the wicket first because of its fleeting nature. Besides, the more it remains under covers, the more volatile it becomes for the batsmen. However, if the sun continues to burn the way it was burning at the Eden Gardens yesterday, we can only expect a high-scoring contest.
Whatever way the wicket may behave, the post-McCullum era Kiwis under the leadership of Kane Williamson, will seek their fourth straight win to take pole position in Group B. For Bangladesh a victory will alleviate some pain from that unimaginable defeat against India. We can only hope the Tigers play with that same vein of aggression and not make the kind of blunders they demonstrated at the M Chinnaswamy in Bangalore.