The result of the first ODI England and Bangladesh left the Bangladeshi cricket fraternity doleful and disquieted. Despite being in a very commendable position, Bangladesh collapsed in a dramatic fashion and thus, their ability to handle pressure against top sides came under scrutiny.
Even Mashrafe Mortaza’s poor shot against Adil Rashid in such a crucial stage of the match was not taken lightly.
In the past, after such defeats, Bangladesh failed to regroup and lost the rest of the matches in a disgraceful manner. Earlier, they lacked a torch bearer and leader to lift their spirit. A leader who would lead from the front and make his team realise the importance of not giving up, no matter how tough the challenge is.
Thankfully, Bangladesh is blessed with a leader in Mashrafe Mortaza who is capable of arresting frustration and depression after such heartbreaks, and bring the team back on track.
Mortaza was hurt after the defeat in the first ODI and so was the whole team. More often, such defeats hamper the temperament of the team as a whole and it is during such situations that the role of a leader becomes very important.
Mashrafe along with coach Chandika Hathurusingha had broken sweat to pull this team out of the rut that they were in.
Poor batting at the top
Bangladesh were sent in to bat by Jos Buttler in the second ODI on a Mirpur track which was not a batting friendly one. It had bounce and movement early on and the Bangladeshi batting line-up failed to counter the English bowlers who had their tails up, and cut short the stay of the batsmen at the crease.
Composure was needed more than wristy stroke-play, but the likes of Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Sabbir Rahman, Mushfiqur Rahim and Shakib Al Hasan focused more on dominating the English bowlers and left Bangladesh in tatters at 113 for 5.
Mahmudullah Riyad and Mosaddek Hossain stitched a partnership of 48 runs for the sixth wicket to drag Bangladesh from the mud, but as soon as the partnership was broken, the Bangladesh innings lost their way again.
A captain’s innings with the bat by Mortaza
The captain came out to bat at number nine and joined Nasir Hossain – the man whose inclusion in the team was the matter of debate before the second ODI – at the crease. Eight more overs were remaining and it was very important for one of the tailenders to give the Bangladesh innings the final push which was missing in the first ODI.
Mortaza took up the responsibility to take Bangladesh to the end and shield Nasir as he was under pressure. There was no time for the batsmen to get set or occupy the crease, and the captain was up to the task – rotating the strike and executing risky strokes, some of which were ugly to watch, but productive in nature.
He was unorthodox with the bat, which proved to work well as it became hard for the English captain to adjust his fielders, while the bowlers were left in doubt about the line and length to bowl.
It was a rousing display of batsmanship and a captain’s determination to prove those wrong who questioned his team’s poor temperament against the top teams. At the crease, he was a brute force and a symbol of boldness.
His lively presence gave his batting partner Nasir, assurance to hold one end, to swell the Bangladeshi total.
Bangladesh managed to post 238 for 8 in 50 overs from a hapless 169 for 7.
Mortaza smashed 44 off 29 balls.
Picked crucial wickets with the ball
But Mash was not finished yet.
He was vital with the ball in his hand as he picked crucial wickets to lead his team to victory.
In his first spell, he outclassed three English batsmen. He pitched the ball full and back of a length, which baffled the English top order. And when Adil Rashid and Jake Ball cranked up the tension by stitching together a tenth wicket partnership, he brought himself on to bowl and negated the possibility of yet another heartbreak.
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Meanwhile, as a captain, he was not just very good, but imaginative and thoughtful as well. His decision to open the bowling with Shakib, was nothing but a product of thoughtful captaincy. He knew the importance of early breakthroughs while defending such totals and decided to engage two strike bowlers from both ends – Himself and Shakib.
And his idea struck gold.
He was well aware of Taskin’s struggle and the lack of a frontline spinner which meant that he and Shakib had to bowl intelligently.
He rarely used two spinners from both ends, but used a pace bowler and spinner in tandem to slow down the runs scored by the English batsmen. His field settings were always attacking and gave the impression that a wicket was always around the corner.
A captain’s performance, Mortaza batted superbly, bowled brilliantly and led his team from the front.