Not another pyrrhic success spell
When Shamim Hossain pulled debutant Wafadar Momand of Afghanistan for a boundary through the midwicket region in Sylhet yesterday, it did more than just settle the nerves of Bangladesh contingent, who were jolted by a first-ever ODI series defeat against the visitors just five days ago in Chattogram.
That shot from Shamim saw the Shakib Al Hasan-led Bangladesh seal a six-wicket win, ensuring the Tigers' maiden bilateral T20I series triumph against Afghanistan.
Bangladesh swept the two-match series clean and, by doing so, had completed three T20I series wins on the trot for only the second time. Bangladesh whitewashed reigning world champions in the format, England, in a three-match series at home in March, followed it up with a 2-1 win at home against Ireland later the same month before seeing their hot streak continue till this series in Sylhet.
The only other time that the Tigers were on such a roll in the format – one that saw them never quite establish a stable footing – was back in 2021 when Bangladesh beat Zimbabwe 2-1 away from home before thrashing Australia 4-1 and New Zealand 3-2 at home to boost their confidence just ahead of the T20 World Cup that year.
From a statistical vantage point, the winning streaks of then and now might seem similar – or some might keep the streak of 2021 ahead as it involved the Aussies and the Kiwis, two giants of the game -- but in reality there lies a stark difference.
The T20I series triumphs over Australia, the eventual winners of the 2021 T20 World Cup, and New Zealand on low and slow Mirpur surfaces were labelled as 'historic' achievements. However, that spell of success apparently gave a false sense of confidence to Bangladesh, later verified by their disastrous exit from the T20 World Cup in Oman and the UAE with five defeats and zero wins in the main phase of the marquee event.
However, things are different this time around as the T20 unit, under the guidance of coach Chandika Hathurusingha and skipper Shakib at the helm, seems to be finally on the right track to change the country's abysmal T20 records. To sustain the upward trajectory, more of what they did against England, Ireland and Afghanistan in recent times must continue.
Rarely seen before in the shortest format from Bangladesh, the Tigers apparently had a specific plan and approach in their successful chases in both the games against a top T20 side like Afghanistan.
Not giving away wickets to star leggie Rashid Khan and mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman bore fruits in the first T20I that was coasted home by the young guns -- Towhid Hridoy, Shamim Hossain and Shoriful Islam -- while Liton Das taking on the bowlers in the Powerplay to give the Tigers a solid start and aid the run-rate in a rain-interrupted 17-over-a-side second T20I looked to be a part of a thought-out plan.
Bangladesh did have moments of shakiness in the series -- the last over hattrick from Karim Janat in the series opener and the struggle to maintain the tempo set by the openers in the second game. And those jittery moments only indicate that there lies further room for improvement. If done correctly, however, Bangladesh might go on to finally stabilise themselves in the shortest format of the game.