Bangladesh v England, 3rd ODI, Dhaka March 5, 2010

Slow progress for Bangladesh

The home side are improving, but fundamental mistakes still hinder their game

Bangladesh's defeat in the third ODI at Chittagong was a throwback to more vulnerable days. Their bowling began with spirit but dissolved in a flood of late strokeplay from Craig Kieswetter and Luke Wright; their batting never recovered from the early extraction of Tamim Iqbal, and became ponderous and defeatist, as they ran out of oomph long before the Powerplay. From the promising heights they touched in Dhaka, they ended up tumbling to the whitewash with scarcely a protest.

And so their search for a maiden victory over England continues unabated. The rubber now reads P11, L11 in ODIs, P4, L4 in Tests, and regardless of how inexperienced the visiting seam attack may prove to be in seven days' time, it's hard to see Bangladesh claiming anything more uplifting than a draw in either of the Chittagong and Dhaka Tests to follow. The onus in those contests will be to string together as many error-free sessions as possible, but as they proved in the course of these three contests, basic mistakes continue to undermine their progress.

Bangladesh's response to their setback in the second ODI was instructive. Instead of turning England's massive scare to their advantage, the team retreated into themselves and accepted that second-best was as much as they could aspire to. Even England, during their years as Australia's whipping boys in the 1990s and early 2000s, made a habit of swiping regular dead-rubber internationals with which to massage their egos. One last effort, coupled with a subtle dropping of their opponents' guard, often did the trick.

There was no sense of anything similar taking place today, certainly not once Kieswetter and Paul Collingwood had averted the risk of an England collapse with a third-wicket partnership of 74. Bangladesh's powerlessness was never as acute as it had been back in 2003, when Andrew Flintoff toyed with them in a trio of seven-wicket victories - the team has genuinely progressed aeons beyond that sorry state - but for the first time in the three matches, the game was over at the halfway mark of the contest.

For those who watch from afar, and see only the scorecards, Bangladesh's efforts in the past few months will prove nothing. Those who have not seen at first hand the capabilities of players such as Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al Hasan attribute their maiden series victory in the Caribbean last July to the player dispute that crippled West Indies' resources, while the excitement that followed the silencing of Virender Sehwag in January's Chittagong Test match was swiftly forgotten amidst a 113-run defeat.

The only thing that makes the wider world sit up and take notice of Bangladesh are notable victories against significant sides. And it's a sad fact that the most earth-shattering of those can be counted on the fingers of one hand - Pakistan in 1999, Australia in 2005, India and South Africa at the 2007 World Cup. There have been others in between whiles, of course, but since seeing off Zimbabwe in a one-sided series in November, Bangladesh have lost 10 ODIs, three Tests, and a crushingly one-sided Twenty20, all without reply.

"We're now very close to winning so many games against bigger teams," said Bangladesh's captain, Shakib Al Hasan. "I think we played good cricket, we came very close in the second game, but I think as long as we're improving, that is the best sign for our cricket. I think now we're making some little mistakes - we need to work on our partnerships, play well in the middle overs, and take advantage in the Powerplays - but if we work on those, we'll win some games."

In Shakib, Bangladesh have found a true star - a young man with the skill to mix it on a personal level with the big boys, and the confidence to carry the burden of a nation with equanimity. Most players who have been called to lead his country have found the pressure too intense, but on the eve of this match he cut a relaxed figure, as he loitered with his team-mates outside the old MA Aziz Stadium, to await news from within at the PCL T20 auction, Chittagong's answer to the IPL. Needless to say, he sold for a top-whack price of 4 lakh Taka ($5780), and the auctioneer even had to be corrected as he allowed the bids to escalate through the roof.

"I am very much confident that I am going alright," Shakib told Cricinfo before the match. "The team has backed me all the way, and the management has helped me also. It's almost a year now that I've been in charge, and we've always been good in our home conditions. Everywhere I go people are following me, and I'm enjoying it very much, on and off the ground."

Shakib's bowling lived up to a lofty pre-series billing, not least in the second match when his 3 for 32 was instrumental in keeping England in the mire, while his best innings of the series at Chittagong was ended by an unfortunate lbw decision that has provided Bangladesh with an ill-warranted alibi for their shortcomings. Despite the bone of contention that Andy Flower threw a local journalist on the eve of the game, when he agreed that bigger teams often get the benefit of the doubt, umpiring was not the reason for the result. And besides, Kevin Pietersen might demand a recount if that sort of blame-game is embarked upon.

Other players have made advances in this series - Tamim's scintillating hundred in the opening encounter was the sort of individual marker that deserves to linger in the collective conscience, while Imrul Kayes and Mushfiqur Rahim demonstrated the disciplines necessary to keep the Bangladeshi engine-room pumping for many years to come. But for all Shakib's protestations of progress, one can't help but thinking an opportunity has been missed this week. England aren't in town very often. And regardless of their middling strength in the world game, they are a side who fall noisily when toppled.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo. Go to to follow him on Twitter through the England tour of Bangladesh.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Bang on March 10, 2010, 6:05 GMT

    Yes SatyanBahrain, Bangladesh is an ordinary team just after India whose world famous cricketers still close eyes and tremble against any pace over 130KM :) Shahadat made Shewag a joker against his lift ups and ultimately ended Shewag's agony :) Oh I loved to see the relief on Shewag's face LOL

  • Soji on March 6, 2010, 15:53 GMT

    Its normal to critically analyse when things go wrong. But trust me this team had come a long way from their induction in to the international cricket . This can be seen in their attitude.They are not at all afraid of any big names. Now they are in the process of building a crux which I believe revolve around Shakib,Tamim,Razzak and Ashraful.

  • Kareem on March 6, 2010, 15:00 GMT

    I would like to remind every one about the WC 07 success, for a second imagine bangladesh did not play the games against India and South Africa. What do we have? Humiliating defeats against all the other teams, including the beginning of a horror ride called "losing to Ireland". I as a cricket fan would like to see Bangladesh put in more well fought games, rather than those fluke victories followed by strings of rubbish performances. Slowly, but surely Bangladesh are getting there, one genuine fast bowler, and a decent #3 is all the team needs to really break free.

  • Sasi Kumar on March 6, 2010, 12:37 GMT

    Bangladesh are a side that are gradually improving at the world stage. However the third ODI did confirm that they are an ordinary side. Not just that they could not win it, but just that they were not competent enogh to put up a good fight. Virender Sehwag called a spade a spade and that was not taken too well by the coach of the Bangladesh team. I feel it's time for Jamie Siddons to show the results or just keep his garb shut. Or his words may come back to bite his bottom someday.

  • Rajibul on March 6, 2010, 9:02 GMT

    Based on 3rd ODI I woould like to say that Shakib is really a bull shit or more worst thing. I shocked when Mahmudullah & Naem Islam in batting after 5 wicket down even BD team bull shit captain didn't take batting PP. As BD worst & third class captin knows that after this partnership there is no more batsman & only bowler (Razzak, Shafiul, Rubel, Shuvo)will come to bat then why didn't instruct his player to take PP !!! did he wanted to play Rubel, Razzak, Shafiul in batting PP ? Same thing he did in the 2nd ODI also as well. Why people praising him that I don't know. What is performance in last 8/9 ODI as batsman. He is worst BD captain I have ever seen.

  • Satyan on March 6, 2010, 7:10 GMT

    This series clearly proves Bagladesh team is an Ordinary Team.

  • nafiz on March 6, 2010, 5:41 GMT

    I'll say this has been a series that has shown Bangladesh's progress - slow or otherwise depends on how you are looking at it. But, umpiring has deifinitely hurt us - and it isn't an unwanted allibi - if Pietersen wants a recount we are all for it. We will swap his dismissal in the first game for the second game 'non-dismissal' of Morgan. I'll also challenge Andrew's prediction on the tests - if Bangladesh play as they did against India, England will be in for a surprise. In that case it will be 1-0 in favor of Bangladesh.

  • Hillol on March 6, 2010, 5:29 GMT

    Cricketing knowledge is the biggest issue for BD team at the moment. Commitment, temperament & patience those r three key quality of a good cricketer & I m very sorry to say NONE of the BD player has it. If u talk abt Shakib, I'll say he is over exposed.He has quality but not WOW factor.Of course he is a big star for BD but in world cricket he is average.Tamim yet again don't knw what he is doing in pitch.BD will need to improve in their mentality. If u r psychologically strong an average can put up a tougher resistance bcz as a team BD does not hv stars. Again, they should look into small chances and half chances. Fielding needs a big improvement. This part of cricket does not need talent. what it takes is hard work to become world class and I don't see any improvement over years. Same old BD which I hv seen 10 yrs ago. I m very sorry for my utter criticism, I hope u can understand the pain of a fan who is fed up of seeing his team failing again and again.. GUD LUK BD, WE STILL LOVE U

  • Alan on March 5, 2010, 21:38 GMT

    They're going to need to rely on luck for the forseeable future, but the blocks for progress are falling into place. It's worth remembering guys like Iqbal, Shakib and Rahim, are nearly 10 years away from reaching their peak. Mortaza's injury has been a big blow, as an elder head would help guide them. A while away from the test circuit will do Ashraful good, if he is to get back in the team he'll have to do it through consistent performance rather than dining out on performances from years ago. I have no doubt by the end of this decade bangladesh will have recorded several home series wins and by the end of the decade will be emerging as a fully rounded team

  • Dummy4 on March 5, 2010, 20:38 GMT

    Oh please! Let bygones be bygones. Yes Habibul, Mashrafe, Pilot and Rajin Saleh were the best in their heydays but they are a spent force. I don't think even Mashrafe can bowl with the same ferocity anymore and he willl retire soon enough. Young bloods will have to be honed in a continuous conveyor belt production line and then they have to be exposed to longer term and ODI formats in local and international cricket (India, Zimbabwe, maybe SA and WI; UK and Aus we can always try). We LOST because of 1. lack of application, 2. not understanding when to step up the gas in ODIs (use of Power plays) and 3. excessive reliance on spin. Today, the players should have taken a cue from the leaf of how the English approached the game like Kieswetter, Cook, Collingwood and Morgan using their front feet constantly to play strokes out of the wicket where the balls weren't coming to the bat. None of The BD batsmen Nayeem, Imrul, Mahmudullah were hitting like cavaliers in a stand & deliver mode.

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