Shakib Al Hasan said before the match yesterday that one of the disappointments of Bangladesh’s World Cup campaign so far has been their fielding efforts. He may have been hoping that the match to follow -- the Tigers’ last World Cup game against Pakistan at Lord’s -- would be an exception, but instead it crystallised his point. That Bangladesh will go home before the World Cup semifinals owes much to their fielding lapses and their inability to win the crunch moments on the field.
On a slowish wicket, a 157-run second-wicket partnership between Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam was the backbone of Pakistan’s above-par score of 315 for nine. Like in matches against New Zealand, Australia and India, Bangladesh had chances to change the momentum, only to fail at each pivotal moment.
With the partnership still shy of a hundred, Pakistan were under a bit of pressure with just 24 runs coming in the seven overs between overs 18 and 25. Also, all the pressure was on Pakistan despite the burgeoning partnership because they were still in with a theoretical -- if outlandishly wishful -- chance of making the semifinals. However, when it came to cashing in on the building pressure, Mosaddek Hossain dropped Babar, then on 57, at point off Mustafizur Rahman in the 26th over. There was another chance in the next over, but Mushfiqur Rahim failed to get his gloves to an edge off the same batsman, with the unfortunate bowler this time being Mosaddek.
Against Australia, David Warner was dropped at point when he was just on 10, and went on to score 166. India’s Rohit Sharma was dropped in the deep when on nine and punished Bangladesh for 95 more runs, taking the game away from the Tigers.
The team and their fans often ruefully recall their second World Cup match against New Zealand, saying that with just a bit of luck they could have won the match they lost by three wickets. But it was Mushfiqur Rahim’s missed run-out chance of Kane Williamson that proved to be the turning point in that match.
Players often like to point out that missed catches are part of the game, but when it becomes a feature rather than a bug like it has for Bangladesh, it will be a major factor in the team’s performance. Bangladesh’s ground fielding was also woeful yesterday, as there were numerous errors and fielders diving over balls to allow boundaries became a common sight. It all contributed to Pakistan scoring much more than they should have, and more than Bangladesh would be able to. Mehedi Hasan Miraz’s excellent figures of one for 30 from 10 overs showed just how difficult it was to bat on a wicket if the bowlers bowled well and the fielders backed them up.
Everyone had been hailing Bangladesh’s performance in the World Cup, but although yesterday was a dead rubber, winning it would have placed them fifth in the points table. With their fielding record in this World Cup and yesterday’s performance in particular, that would probably have been a position too high.