This has happened before: Mash
Imrul Kayes and Shakib Al Hasan's century stand was the only bright spot in an otherwise woefully pedestrian display by Bangladesh in the first ODI against England at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday. Three dropped catches cost them a total of 33 runs in a match they lost by 21. England scored 89 runs for four wickets in their last 10 overs and 60 for two in the last five. Bangladesh lost their last six wickets for 17 runs, rendering a last 10-over comparison impossible and utterly unnecessary.
For all the talk of Bangladesh's improvement over the last two years, and they have undoubtedly improved, the bare statistics say that there was a gulf in difference in quality between the two sides when it mattered most. The kind of panic that saw that collapse from a position where the Tigers needed 39 off 52 balls with six wickets in hand is not the hallmark of a top side.
"The dismissals told you there was a bit of panic," said a dejected Mashrafe Bin Mortaza after the match. "We could have played out 10-12 dot balls, but we got out trying to get the runs.
"Maybe we could have batted slowly and gone after the bowling with 15-16 needed in the last two overs. We cannot blame them [the batsmen] because this is has happened before and has happened repeatedly. If we cannot turn around for this, if we lose matches like this, it will be difficult."
Perhaps the skipper was referring to their recent 2-1 series win over Afghanistan when he said that it has happened before. Against Afghanistan their last 10-over batting figures were: 69 for seven in 10, 54 for three in 9.2 and 64 for five in 10.
He recalled the loss against India in the World Twenty20 earlier this year when Bangladesh lost after needing two runs off three balls when asked whether this was his most crushing loss as captain, a tenure which has seen more against-the-tide victories rather than defeats.
"This is also disappointing because successfully chasing 309 would have sent the team to a great position mentally," he said.
Mechanically taking the positives from the game, Mashrafe praised Imrul -- who scored his second successive ton against the tourists after the hundred in the tour match -- and Shakib, whose 118-run fifth-wicket partnership was the reason that Bangladesh were in a winning position near the finish line.
"The batsmen did well tackling their cutters in the first 10 overs. Shakib and Imrul put us in a winning position," Mashrafe said. "He [Imrul] doesn't get a chance often, always in and out. His performance outside the national team was really good. He proved that he can go big at this level."
If the story of the second innings was Bangladesh blowing a golden chance, then in the first innings it was about the shoddy fielding that allowed Ben Stokes lives -- courtesy of a Mahmudullah Riyad spill at mid-on off Taskin Ahmed in the 31st over -- when he was on 69 and 71 (Mosharraf Hossain dropping a skier in the deep in the very next over off the skipper's bowling), and numerous ground fielding errors that leaked runs. Mosharraf also dropped debutant Ben Duckett on 58, but that cost only two runs whereas Stokes went on to complete his first ODI century -- 101 off 100 deliveries.
"Fielding cost us. If we could have taken those catches, we could have stopped them for around 280-290 runs," Mashrafe said. "The mindset would have been different. We don't bat on these wickets and chase 300 every day.
"We can take it professionally and think that we have two matches in hand," Mashrafe said when asked how the team can recover. "We have every chance to return in the series. I think we have no alternative but to think positively."