Bangladesh v India, 1st ODI, Mirpur May 10, 2007

Sloppiness taints India win

Though India beat Bangladesh, the win was marred by sloppiness in the field, in sapping conditions. It is a series being played at the wrong time, in the wrong place, argues Sidharth Monga

Dravid refused to blame India's poor fielding on the stifling conditions © AFP

This was a game between a side that finished seventh in the World Cup and one that exited in the first round. It looked the part. That it provided entertainment shouldn't hide the fact that the match was below the high standards other teams have set. Just like the scrappy level of competition cannot hide the fact that this series is being played in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The conditions in Mirpur are sapping, with high humidity levels and temperatures around 35 degrees celsius. What suffered the most was the fielding. "Fielding in the morning is quite challenging here," Rahul Dravid, the India captain, said. It will be interesting to see what the captains do after winning the toss if they are given a greentop.

But even Dravid agreed that the conditions could not be used as an excuse for their fielding effort. Fielding is very much a function of enjoying your game, something Ravi Shastri had stressed upon at the preparatory camp. Yet there was enough evidence today that those lessons hadn't been learnt. A nick that flew between the wicketkeeper and first slip while both stood watching, a jogging Munaf Patel escorting the ball to the boundary, Zaheer Khan ambling towards a skied shot - these lapses all helped Bangladesh get up to 250. "I am not using the conditions as an excuse," Dravid said. "We can definitely do better at fielding." The truth is India simply have too many fielders who need to be hidden.

Bangladesh, on their part, gifted away too many opportunities to win the match. Tamim Iqbal, after starting off well and having put India under pressure, offered his wicket to Dinesh Mongia in his first over. They scored only 65 after Javed Omar fell in the 39th over.

And though Bangladesh managed to get India down on the mat, thanks largely to poor shots by the top order, the advantage slipped away. They no doubt missed Mashrafe Mortaza, but nevertheless relied too heavily on the three left-arm spinners. When Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik had their measure, there was no one to fall back upon. The confusion of having a runner seemed to confuse the fielding team more than India. Karthik was let off when he had just two, when Abdur Razzak fumbled a throw. They threw at the wrong end once and when India were within reach, the captaincy lacked imagination.

It was a close match, but unfair as it may sound to Dhoni's effort, one decided by who erred more and at what juncture. The hot, sapping conditions are not expected to get any better; hopefully the teams will.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer with Cricinfo Magazine