This was not a usual Bangladesh-Pakistan contest. There were moments when the encounter looked to be following the usual routine of the last 29 years, but those moments were fleeting.
The margin of victory followed the type, but the usual dominator looked weaker than the usual harried, for the first time. Even last year when Pakistan chased 327 at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, they believed a win was still possible. Bangladesh remained wary until Shahid Afridi’s blows settled the matter. There were moments in 2012, when Bangladesh lost to Pakistan by two runs in the Asia Cup final. Five needed off the last over and Aizaz Cheema somehow kept it down to three.
A reversal of fortune after 16 years can’t be explained by this one performance. It would be unfair on both sides, especially Bangladesh who have improved vastly in the last several years and especially grown through the 2015 World Cup. Pakistan are going through a major transition, and is less experienced of them as a unit.
Such has been their transition that they had to name Azhar Ali, who hadn’t played an ODI since January 2013, as captain. One can hardly blame him for the 79-run defeat, especially after his 73-ball 72. He does not possess a batting line-up as experienced as the one Misbah-ul-Haq had in Mirpur last year. Azhar noted that as the key difference.
“The Bangladesh team has been playing the same unit for the last four or five years,” Azhar said. “In the years gone by, we always have the experience to go through difficult periods. But today we have some new guys. They are trying to make inroads. We lack a bit of experience in the team.
“Whenever you make runs and you don’t win its not pleasing. We wanted to make runs, we also want that team to win. I think the score was a bit more, especially because we have a new batting line-up. So 230 to 240 runs was too many. It is difficult to chase 300 everyday. I think the guys tried their best but we fell a little bit short.”
Azhar felt that Pakistan’s fielding too had cost them the game. Saad Nasim dropped Tamim Iqbal off his own bowling when the batsman was on 47, while Junaid Khan dropped Mushfiqur Rahim at mid-on when he was on 35. Both batsmen went on to score hundreds, the first time in Bangladesh’s ODI history that two batsmen made centuries in the same game. Pakistan subsequently conceded 55 in the batting Powerplay, and 93 in the last 10 overs.
“I think especially when in the field we dropped few catches in the wrong stage. Some of the bowling wasn’t up to the mark, up to our standards. The way we bowled in the death overs and powerplay weren’t up to it. We will definitely try and fix it in the next game.”
There were some positives in Pakistan’s performance. Mohammad Rizwan made 67 on ODI debut while Wahab Riaz ran in hard all afternoon, ending with a four-wicket haul.
Perhaps Pakistan will look at their fifth bowler situation. Haris Sohail, Nasim and Azhar combined to concede 79 runs in 10 overs. The exact margin by which they lost the game.
Some of the crowd started to leave the ground before Shakib Al Hasan picked up the last Pakistan wicket in the 46th over. Perhaps they were trying to beat the end-of-match traffic out of Mirpur. Perhaps some of them were Pakistan supporters. Bangladesh themselves didn’t celebrate in a manner that befits a win against such an opposition after 16 years.
Pakistan will be expected to fight back, but as Azhar himself said, this team lacks the experience to bounce back. Over to Sunday to find out then.