Bangladesh national cricket team conceded a humiliating three-match one-day international series defeat against Sri Lanka that took place between 26th to 31st July, 2019 at R. Premadasa Stadium in Sri Lanka. It is true that Sri Lanka won most of the ODI matches against Bangladesh over the past several years, but in the recent past Bangladesh played against Sri Lanka with a lot of authority and power and produced a dignified performance in every aspect of the game.
Sri Lankan national team had to reckon Bangladesh as a powerful contender because over time in the ODI format of international cricket Bangladesh made a remarkable improvement. They appeared to be quite threatening to every cricket- playing nation of the world. And so far our national squad succeeded to register comfortable win against all ODI playing countries, including the elite ones.
Our cricket fans across the world are really very upset to see that their favourite team is falling from the grace as they miserably failed to stand up to the onslaught of Sri Lankan batsmen and bowlers. We lost all three ODIs against Sri Lanka which is certainly very shocking and degrading, particularly when Sri Lanka tour was preceded by an encouraging performance in the just-concluded ICC World Cup in UK. Bangladesh national team were described by the cricket world as the undisputed leader in run chasing. No one will forget our magnificent win against powerful West Indies and South Africa in the ICC World Cup tournament. And who will forget our extraordinary run chase against Australia in which we ended up with 331 against Australia’s 382 laced with a brilliant knock of 102 of Mushfiqur Rahim. Can anyone overlook Sakib al Hasan’s dazzling performance in every department of the game that certainly brought Bangladesh into limelight.
So, against this backdrop, it is really difficult to decipher what went wrong with our team in Sri Lankan tour? Why then we suffered a clean sweep of the whole series against Sri Lanka? Cricket experts have different explanations of their own as they delve into our debacle against Sri Lanka.
Some cricket analysts hold the view that failure of the top-order batsmen led to low total score because substandard performance of our top-order batsmen put undue pressure on the middle-order batsmen who failed to hold their nerves and committed silly mistakes in their shots that precipitated the collapse of the team. It is pointed out that in bowling and fielding departments as well Bangladeshi players displayed a very poor show. They appeared to be quite listless and utterly lacking team spirit.
Some cricket experts point out that absence of our vital regular players has virtually broken the chain and made our team dysfunctional from the very beginning. Our full strength were missing with the absence of Mashrafee bin Murtaza, Sakib, Liton Das, Mohammad Saifuddin, which gave Sri Lankan team absolute leverage to turn the game into their favour.
It is, however, claimed that Sri Lankan tour of Bangladesh had been planned at the wrong time when entire Bangladesh squad needed adequate amount of break after a prolonged World Cup campaign of more than two months. Benjamin Franklin said ’Sports and games lubricate the mind.’ Yes, at the individual level this is very much true as it does not just provide a refreshing relief from our mechanical life but it also gives enough mental energy to confront the challenges and complexities of modern life. But in today’s world sports and games play even much bigger role. It generates tremendous amount of nationalistic fervour that brings everyone together irrespective of any political and cultural affiliation. Participation in international competitions can cause appreciation and deprecation of a country’s prestige and dignity.
That is why we need to make appropriate planning and adequate preparations before we decide to take part in any international competitions. In no way we, as an independent nation, can compromise with our dignity and prestige of the country. We lost the ODI series to Sri Lanka but we still cannot easily digest this bitter pill. It is difficult to come to terms with this shocking series defeat against Sri Lanka. A lot of cricket enthusiasts have the observations that Bangladesh Cricket Board should have given second thoughts before initiating Sri Lanka tour with an exhausted national squad coming back from ICC World Cup mission in UK. Some say it may have adversely affected our team’s performance against Sri Lanka to a greater extent. Our ace all-rounder Sakib al Hasan echoed the similar sentiments. ’In modern age of cricket, there are so many matches we have to play, so it’s tough to manage everything together. If you look at the other teams; their coaching staff, physio, trainers helping them, discussing these matters because a player cannot play match after match [for a long period]. So, the breaks are important.’ Sakib, while commenting on the continued unsatisfactory performance of his long time team mate Tamim Iqbal, said going through lean period or bad patch is a normal part of cricketers’ playing life but he emphasised on the importance of taking time off for Tamim Iqbal and other team-mates to get fully recharged and thereby making cricket life really productive. In fact, this particular task should be a part of overall strategy of the team management as much as it should be the strategy of an individual player. But at the end of the day it is the team management represented by chief coach and other members of the coaching panel who will decide on the appropriate workload and rotation policy for the regular and non-regular players in order to sustain their better performance in any competition. It is claimed that this strategy has the added advantage of making room for the newcomers and some youngsters to serve the national team and thereby making bench strength and pipeline stronger.
Some cricket experts say that Sri Lankan tour of Bangladesh has been a blessing in disguise. This is because of the fact that a full postmortem of our debacle against Sri Lanka will help us to pinpoint our shortcomings and drawbacks and also to undertake an effective plan for our forthcoming international encounters, particularly for next year’s Twenty20 World Cup in Australia. So, it is better to look forward and turn our debacle into a relishing delight, our loss into lasting gains and sorrows into jubilations. Let’s accept the challenges and turnaround with the consistent hard work and concerted efforts of every one.