A blip or a precursor?
Getting a winning tonic ahead of the T20 World Cup in Oman and the UAE was all that Bangladesh had apparently planned for and with three series wins on the trot -- away to Zimbabwe followed by wins at home over Australia and New Zealand -- the Tigers now head to the T20 extravaganza in their richest vein of form ever in the format.
The caveat is that most of Bangladesh's recent T20I triumphs came playing in favourable conditions at Mirpur, where surfaces were mostly tailor-made to enhance the hosts' abilities.
However, with media, fans and experts questioning the benefits that the Tigers could expect to reap from wins in such favourable conditions, the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) prepared a sporting wicket for the fifth and final T20I against New Zealand on Friday.
The behaviour of the pitch at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in the fifth T20I stood in stark contrast to the way the surface had played in the previous nine T20Is at the venue. It may also be enough to put an end to the claim that the Mirpur surface is a typical spinning track and that there are very little to no ways to improve the behavior of the pitch.
Right-arm quick Taskin Ahmed was getting ample carry and movement off the pitch from the very beginning while clocking speeds as high as 141kmph. And with the pitch offering uniform bounce instead of gripping and holding the ball back unexpectedly -- as it did in the previous nine T20Is -- batsmen were able to play their shots while bowlers had to be shrewd even as they introduced variations and bowled slower deliveries.
The most unfortunate part was that the Tigers, who had dominated proceedings throughout the last two series, acted meekly and their discernable batting failure saw them succumb to a 27-run defeat.
Meanwhile, the one time in the entire series that they got the opportunity to show their ability on a true sporting wicket, an inexperienced New Zealand side showed their superiority over Bangladesh in the T20 format.
Bangladesh, who already had the five-match series in the bag, rested regular starters like Shakib Al Hasan and Mustafizur Rahman along with all-rounders Mohammad Saifuddin and Mahedi Hasan. But that could still not justify their slump to four for 46 in 8.5 overs in chase of a challenging 162.
New Zealand's 161 for five was the highest total in the last 11 T20Is at the venue. Is it that the Tigers, who have not had the need to score more than seven an over for most of their games on slow and gripping Mirpur pitches in the recent past, crumbled when asked to chase a total in a range that is considered par for the course in modern-day T20 cricket around the world?
If so, it probably is time for the harsh reality that the 'winning momentum' gained from the crushing 4-1 of the Aussies and a 3-2 series win over the Kiwis will not amount to much in the upcoming T20 World Cup, where the surfaces are expected to be sporting and competition to be much fiercer.