Mushy almost covers for the Shakib-Tamim choke | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 27, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:10 AM, July 27, 2018

Mushy almost covers for the Shakib-Tamim choke

49 runs off 13.5 overs were scored as Bangladesh's chase of 272 slowed down after a flying start that saw the Tigers race to 80 for one after just 11 overs. At 129 for one after 24.5 overs, with two set batsmen at the crease and the required run rate still below six, Bangladesh were very much in pole position to seal the match and the series by winning the second ODI against West Indies in Guyana on Wednesday.

But Tamim, the match-winning centurion in the first match, went down the wicket off the second ball he faced from leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, played an ugly heave that connected with nothing but air and was stumped.

Having lost his partner in a 97-run second-wicket stand, it was then Shakib's turn to lose his mind. The required rate did not creep above six till the end of the 28th over, but Shakib spent the period between Tamim's dismissal and his dismissal in the 30th over demonstrating the perils of premeditation. That he scored his second fifty on the trot in that time is really an academic detail; all his innings will be remembered for is the ugly, one-handed slash at off-spinner Ashley Nurse that looped to the fielder at backward point.

The stark contrast between the duo's contributions in the first match and their brain freeze in the second is Bangladesh cricket in a nutshell. On Sunday they had brought all their experience into play during a record 207-run stand; they correctly assessed the pitch and set up a 48-run win by scoring 279 for four which owed much to Tamim batting through and cashing in at the end. Yet, faced with simpler equations three days later, they completely lost the plot.

Being a day-night match in which Bangladesh won the toss, West Indies undoubtedly had the worst of conditions. In the daytime the pitch was slow and low, but young batsman Shimron Hetmyer had much more wherewithal than the two seasoned pros in the opposition to battle through the hard times and explode with a beautiful century in the end.

The pitch quickened up under the lights and the dew and Bangladesh, helped by a nine-ball 23 from opener Anamul Haque, had the match all set up. The pitch was turning, but the specialist spinners in the opposition -- Bishoo and Nurse -- were first of all not lethal and, secondly, just two in number.

Bangladesh had worked themselves into a position from where they could play those spinners out and go back to maximising returns from the pace bowlers. From the 17th to the 23rd over, part-time off-spinner Chris Gayle was allowed to bowl four overs for just 11 runs. 20 of those balls were played by Tamim and he scored just seven from his bat while playing out 14 dot balls. It is a sad comment that being a subcontinent batsman Tamim lost composure while playing average spinners. But the greater culpability is that having damaged the run rate, Tamim just surrendered and exited the scene with the ugliest of shots. 

Before that, fast bowler Rubel Hossain -- someone who proved that he is experienced only in terms of matches played – did for West Indies with the ball what Shakib and Tamim did with the bat. Rubel had bowled with good rhythm, found his yorkers to good effect and was unlucky when what should have been a catch off Hetmyer in the 43rd over had been parried over by Shakib at deep midwicket. But one six in the penultimate over sent all his composure out the window. In an over which cost 22 runs to spoil what was a good bowling effort from Bangladesh, Rubel either bowled length balls to the brilliant Hetmyer or wides and above-waist-height no-balls.

It is tempting to jump on the bandwagon and blame Mushfiqur Rahim for getting out off a full toss in the last over once again. But while his dismissal against India in Bangalore during a 2016 World Twenty20 match was irresponsible because, needing two to win off three all he needed to do was hit along the ground. His intention cannot be faulted on Wednesday because eight were needed off the last six and a six off a full toss was the obvious choice.

It was poor luck that the execution was not up to the mark, but he had executed brilliantly to almost cover up for the failings of his two more celebrated teammates. Having absorbed pressure and batted brilliantly to hit a 67-ball 68 in tough circumstances, he can only blame his teammates for choking when the match was there to be won.

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