Bangladesh v Pakistan, Asia Cup final, Mirpur March 22, 2012

Bangladesh have much to cherish even in defeat

An underdog always has the potential to create theatre and Bangladesh achieved that. They have succeeded in winning the hearts of their fans, and given the Asia Cup popularity

It turned out to be a beautiful moment in the end. As Aizaz Cheema's yorker jarred into Shahadat Hossain's pads and the tailender ran a humble leg-bye, the crowd was stunned into silence. Quickly realising the magnitude and inimitability of the day, the packed house took a few seconds to compose itself and soon broke into a long applause that lasted till Mahmudullah made his way to the dressing-room. The cheers too went unabated even as tears rolled down many cheeks, the gesture quite appropriate for the occasion.

The 25,000-plus audience, and by extension the rest of the country which lived every ball of the Asia Cup final, was justifiably crushed by the two-run defeat. Bangladesh had crossed the final hurdle and were within touching distance of the tape. It was going to be a unique triumph for the perennial underdogs of the subcontinent and the world, but it wasn't to be. Misbah-ul-Haq's Pakistan celebrated like crazy after winning.

The manner of their celebrations was evidence enough of how hard Bangladesh had fought in the game, something that has been witnessed only a handful of times over the past decade. On a balmy Thursday night at the Shere Bangla National Stadium, they fought as if they wanted revenge for Multan, Fatullah and Harare, but their exhausted bodies betrayed their intentions. Like on those occasions, Bangladesh again failed to close out the games, but this time there will be fewer repercussions.

Despite the result, as the long applause by the Mirpur crowd suggested, the tournament will be most memorable for the hosts. It will be remembered by fans and the cricketers, who now have a blueprint of teamwork for future references. They have learned how to chase down a big total and how to go for the jugular in a curtailed match. Nasir Hossain learned there's no shortcut to success and that he has to finish games; Tamim Iqbal's four consecutive fifties proved his critics wrong; Shakib reminded everyone that he is not just the country's leading cricketer, but a player who is on track to becoming the best limited-overs allrounder in the world.

The success of the tournament has also been vindication for Stuart Law's modus operandi, a calming influence rather than banging on from the sidelines every ball. He sits in the dugout but limits his hand gestures. But, the former Australian batsman must be ready to tackle complacency, the threat of inconsistency and the "overnight star" syndromes in the dressing-room.

Apart from the traditional areas of concern, Law would also need to develop a big-innings culture in the team while there is more work to be done on the choice of shots towards the end of the innings - if the slog or the scoop doesn't work, the age-old straight-bat approach should be enforced.

Law is happy to have a calming influence like Mashrafe Mortaza back in the mix. But more than just being a great source of mental support for the team, Mortaza's bowling return has been the most encouraging factor for the team.

Their thrilling run has also meant that the Asia Cup has gained popularity after years of negligence as a competition. An underdog always has the potential to create theatre and Bangladesh achieved that. Excitable crowds thronged Mirpur every time Bangladesh chased.

The team can be rest assured that the country understands what it goes through: they can lose, they can surprise with a win but they must always provide a fight, show that they care. This one could have gone either way even with the bunny Shahadat on strike, with four needed off the final ball. It ultimately went to Pakistan, but it took a photo-finish to keep Bangladesh on the runners-up podium.

Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • zulfiquar on March 26, 2012, 15:02 GMT

    Okay, well done Tamim. But why so much bravado as the four finger salute? When is going to learn to put team before self? It was obvious the newbies fell apart from the pressure - Nazim, Jahurul and even Nasir. When you reach the 50 milestone, you must ensure you finish. Tamim has a long way to go before he grows up, and as long as the media keeps coddling him like here especially Isam, I see no sign of that happening soon. When like a good opener will he learn to convert and support his team rather than playing for half milestones. As ususal he looked haggard and was satisfied with half measures. The self before the team and media and writers seem to like that. This tournament was about taking the next step in developing the Bangladesh Game - Tamim certainly has not. More should be expected of him, and as opposed to the authors I do.

  • SM on March 24, 2012, 18:14 GMT

    @ZsZs: Great to see someone is using hard facts to make his point. I know people are happy in Bangladesh. And lot of facts will get overlooked until we play terrible at a series. Most of the players are under-performing. And there is a 10000 ton gorilla one BCB's neck. It needs to go. But no one will talk about it now.

  • Musafir on March 24, 2012, 17:58 GMT

    Another move to secure BD test status. the level of their team currently they cant even think in dreams that if match played between them and India/Srilanka/Pakistan they can win. come on. sponsers are now involved directly now just after BPL they are preparing to lanuch next BPL and its the start.

  • Jawwad on March 24, 2012, 14:03 GMT

    I watched the entire tournament from Lahore and took a flight back to US the night after finals. I say this for certainty that there is huge praise for the BD team and they were the talk of the town in Pakistan throughout the tournament. Many congrats to their spirited cricket. Though, there is no praise for the Pakistan team from either Cricinfo or the Bangladesh fans, not even mentioning the winner. I hope it changes. Pakistan bowling does not fail consectively. Great team work. Congrats Pakistan!

  • Jawwad on March 24, 2012, 7:17 GMT

    Hats off to BD. I watch all your losses and wins but it's not everyday that you make me cry!! I always knew we had it in our blood and thank you for making us hope. Tamim and Shakib proved themselves again and Nasir- what a Tiger!! We could've had the edge if the staff had considered Ash rather than Nazim. Well never mind coz we're proud to be part of you- Tigers. Thanks again for letting us keep our heads high once again and I'm confident we can do it again!!!!

  • Adnan on March 24, 2012, 3:22 GMT

    Bravo to BD , that might be new beginning of Bangladesh cricket team. Asia Cup is just a tournament. Let us see who is real Asian Champion, that analysis covers all head to head matches rather than selective period / tournaments. Pakistan vs India , the score line is 69-48 in favour of Pakistan. Pakistan vs Sri Lanka again 76-47 in Pakistan's favour. Pakistan vs Bangladesh it is 30-1 in Pakistan's favour. Any taker??

  • Muatasim on March 23, 2012, 19:29 GMT

    @IndnCrktfan for your kind information it is true Bangladesh made ODI debut in 1986 but from 1986-2000 they played around 25 matches before they got their odi and test status in 2000 and is there any regular experienced team that plays only 25 matches in 15 years? .... and as you said Bangladesh didnt win any test in 12 years which is false if you look at the statistics Bangladesh won 3 test matches so far and won 72 ODI matches out of which 21 ODI victories came against strong team since 2005. On the other hand India has been playing cricket since 1932 and if you know your team took 20 years to win their first test which they did it against England in 1952 where Bangladesh took 5 years to win their first test against Zimbabwe in 2005. Remember one thing, it takes a lot of time to build a strong team. If you look at Australia they have been playing cricket for more than 100 years and their test debut was in 1885 and so if you look at Bangladesh they will surely take another 10-15 years

  • Tanzim on March 23, 2012, 18:44 GMT

    Bangladesh may not won the match but they proved the point of being consistent...which was lacking for a long time. Those who follow bd. Cricket then they should know that beating India or Australia or South Africa and then being inconsistent was very prominent. But in this particular tournament bd team showed consistent improvement. @IndnCrktfan: do u kw how long it took for India or newzeland to bag their first test win? How many matches or months? Why having the best batting line up why India is failing to achieve desired result outside subcontinent? Why after so many talks next debate India become afraid of preparing bouncy wickets in India? Answering these question is difficult! But what I'm trying to say is that consistency or improvement can be seen at any given point in time. Being a true cricket fan you should show desired respect to team who is showing signs of improvement.

  • Dummy4 on March 23, 2012, 18:12 GMT

    BD played very well in this tournament..They have been playing at home for last two years and they hav gud bunch of cricketers and Shakib is in Prime form now..Also They won all 4 tosses and batted 2nd in every luck was with BD tigers but nonetheless they played unexpectedly well but lets not get over confident and our BD f ans shud not show any attitude rather be nice and respect other big cricketing nations..I always Respect PAK cricket team cuz they hv been not playing home for last few yrs which a very frustrating side for any cricketer..I hv watched all 4 PAK games this Asia Cup and also in Last WC in dhaka and feel pitty for true Pakistanis who r not watching them live...But for BD, i hop its a new beginning..BD shud not loose momentum frm here..Its a new Era in cricket world..thr's no mcgrath, no Akram, No Murali or warne or Lara or Inzi or Dravid..also tendulkar almost on the brink of a retirement so i expect BD to rule this new ERA..its abt time after 13 years...

  • zulfiquar on March 23, 2012, 18:01 GMT

    People have been gaga over Tamim. He got starts and grand standed and did not continue. If you go to stats guru and look at the last 5 years, ODIs, openers you will see that Tamim has played a staggering 107 matches. Of which he has 22 50's and 3 100's. His 50 to 100 ratio is 13.6%, number 40 on the list of most played openers in that period. Compare to that Gibbs has a 100% ratio, Dilshan 85%, Stirling from Ireland 80%, Tendulkar is 40%, and Ahmad Shehza a whopping infinty ration ... and so on. Tamim has squandered opportunities and plays for the grand stand more often than not. He needs to convert! And I encourage statsguru to do the study as well. I am just an amateur - but the sub-par performance, and grandstanding is hurting him more than not.

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