Four years ago Bangladesh experienced a heartbreaking defeat against Pakistan in the final of the Asia Cup. In a low scoring affair, Bangladesh put a strong Pakistan side under enormous pressure to script history in front of a vociferous crowd who was supporting Bangladesh. In the end, Pakistan held their nerves to clinch a victory by two runs and still today, the memories of that match hurt.
Bangladesh cricket has progressed since then. In the last one and half years, their performance has been eye-catching, but still, when it comes to handling the pressure against the top sides, they tend to collapse and at times, lose a match despite being in a commendable position.
On a warm evening at Mirpur, Bangladesh’s target was 310 in 50 overs. Earlier, Ben Stokes and Ben Duckett’s inspiring fourth wicket partnership and later on a late surge from Jos Buttler helped England to post 309 for 8 in 50 overs. The track at Mirpur was a sporting one. It was supportive both for the batsmen and bowlers. All a batting team needs to do is, keep wickets in hand, stitch productive partnerships and concentrate more on strike rotation so that the pressure of the run rate doesn’t pose a threat.
A decent start for the home team
Bangladesh’s start was steady, but some smart bowling and outstanding fielding from England put Bangladesh under pressure and the match seemed to have slipped out of their hand at 153
Shakib Al Hasan was dismissed in the third ball of 42
Whenever a beautifully poised partnership is broken while chasing totals, there is always a risk of a collapse and it is when the importance of handling the pressure becomes more important. The captain of the opposition unleashes various tricks to unsettle the new batsman while the bowlers and fielders automatically rediscover their lost vim and give their best shot to put the batting team under pressure.
Jake Ball varied his pace and length while Adil Rashid utilised the bounce of the Mirpur track at its very best to pile pressure on the Bangladeshi lower order. Bangladesh just needed to keep their cool and deal in singles and twos to arrest a collapse, but all they did was a poor exhibition of temperament.
This is not the first time Bangladesh have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, but on many occasions, Bangladesh’s temperament was tested extremely by the big teams of world cricket where they ended up the ghost in a tragic fashion.
How could Bangladesh lose the match against England?
The answer is not a complex one.
Bangladesh simply failed to handle the pressure. It was not that they were in the soup, but the situation was well under their control, but still they lost as because they lacked the composure to deal such a suitable situation.
Rudi Webster in the book “Think Like a Champion” said, “You create most of your pressure by the way you evaluate the situations you face and assess your ability to handle them. In pressure situations, you tend to magnify the difficulties while underestimating your abilities to cope with them. It is that distortion of assessment that creates the pressure. The larger the distortion the greater is the pressure. Some pressure is caused by the actual game but most of it is created by your perception of the game and what you think might happen in it”.
Perhaps, the dismissal of Shakib sowed the seeds of self-doubt and fear among the lower order batsmen and left them thinking, England might make a comeback. And it seems, such a thought killed the focus and hampered the composure of the team. Their lack of composure was evident and when you lack composure, from nowhere, a ugly collapse chips in to script tragedies.
According to Rudi, “In sport, pressure is also caused by the importance of the moment, the significance of the match, the stage of the match, a make-or-break point or the closeness of the contest. If the situation is not important or if you don’t care about the result or what happens to you, you won’t feel much pressure.”
Your action is controlled by your mind and when you over think about the negative outcomes, catastrophic outcomes are a sure to come.
England handled the pressure better than Bangladesh as they believed they could win and thus, were worthy the winners.